New Zealand Birds - Bird of The Year 2022

Since 1923 'Forest & Bird' has been New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organization. Over the years, members and supporters have been protecting wildlife and wild places, on land and in the sea, united by a love of New Zealand’s nature. In 2005 they introduced the popular and much sought after 'Bird of The Year' competition to highlight the issues facing many of New Zealand's birds.

Just Announced - The 2022 winner is the pīwauwau rock wren


It's reigning wrens!!

Congratulations, pīwauwau rock wren! From underbird to wonderbird, the rock wren is New Zealand's Bird of the Year 2022.

New Zealand's only true alpine bird, this little cutie lives its entire life cycle - from egg to parent - in the snow and ice of the mighty Southern Alps of the South Island. With giant feet like snowshoes, and talons like crampons, these are New Zealand's original mountaineers!

You can read more about this year's winner by clicking here.

For those who decide to walk the Hooker Valley Track at Aoraki Mt Cook, keep an eye open for this pretty litle bird.


This year the field was thrown wide open because two-time champ, the much loved Kākāpō parrot had announced that this year they will not be participating in the competition.

That left seventy-one species vying for members votes to become 2022’s top bird and in the words of Forest & Bird chief executive Nicola Toki "the feathers were set to fly".

“We can’t wait to see what shenanigans the birds – and humans campaigning for them – get up to this year,” she said with a smile.

The new idea for 2022 was an emphasis on supporting what the organizers describe as underbirds.

“Bird of The Year is an awesome celebration of the birds New Zealanders love, but there are some amazing birds that fly under our radar – often because they’re rare or shy. It’s time for the loud and flashy birds to share the spotlight with these underbirds!

“We’ve identified 20 underbirds in need of some love and attention. These birds may not be as well-known as some of their cousins, but they’re interesting and fabulous too.

“New Zealand is home to so many fantastic birds, and we’d love for voters to check out the full suite of candidates – including the underbirds, who are often overlooked and underappreciated,” says Nicola. “These birds aren’t just underbirds in Bird of the Year. With many of them threatened species, they’re underbirds in life too.”

The underbirds were chosen, based on their lack of popularity in previous elections, limited or non-existent media coverage, and conservation status that places them at risk of extinction".

We've selected some images of the underbirds and will add more before the competition closes on October 30.

Their names are shown in English & Māori.


The Reef Heron, Matuku moana


The Subantarctic Skua, Hākoakoa


The Red Knot, Huahou


The Spotless Crake, Pūweto


Black-fronted tern, Tarapirohe


Banded Rail, Moho pererū


Subantarctic snipe,Tutukiwi


Grey Duck, Pārera


Scaup, Pāpango


Whitehead, Pōpokotea


Pied shag, Kāruhiruhi


Black Stilt, Kakī

STOP PRESS - shortly before the competition was launched, outrage was expressed about the withdrawal of past multiple winner the Kākāpō parrot from this years competition. Some New Zealanders wanted to know how many Kākāpō parrots were actually consulted about this decision, and there were even suggestions that voting forms might have been tampered with. A commission of enquiry was demanded, but to use an expression often used by birds, it never got off the ground.

The team here at New Zealand Vacations can organize a bird-themed tour that would include visits to some of the most beautiful and remote parts of New Zealand.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Oct 17, 2022