New Zealand Fairy Tern / Tara-iti

With a population of fewer than 40 birds and including a four year average (2009-2012) of just 9 breeding pairs, Sternula nereis davisae, the New Zealand fairy tern, (NZFT) is New Zealand's rarest endemic breeding bird.

How you can help

Since 1983, the total population of NZFT has quadrupled and the number of breeding pairs has tripled. However, the recovery of these birds has been slow and the possibility of extinction within 50 years is still very real without your help.



Join the Trust


Become an NZFT Volunteer by contacting your nearest DOC office.

Warkworth (09) 425-7812

Whangarei (09) 470-3304




  Bird watchers anywhere in New Zealand

can watch out for NZFT. Read more



  • We support Department of Conservation (DOC) volunteers,
  • We educate the public through projects like this website,
  • We create brochures and attend markets and public events to help spread the word about this largely unknown and unseen but endearing little bird.





Share the beach  


NZFT nest during spring and summer, the busiest time for  beachgoing visitors. NZFT young and eggs are well camouflaged and it is highly likely a person on a beach or breeding ground could step on an egg or chick before seeing it.  Interestingly, at Waipu, older NZFT chicks often complete their development in vegetated dune areas.

You can help keep NZFT eggs, chicks and adults safe:

  • Avoid shelly patches - walk on bare sand.
  • Stay out of the fenced areas and obey signs.
  • Follow wildlife refuge regulations (NO dogs, horses, vehicles, firearms or fires).
  • Remove bait or fish remains to deter scavengers including black-backed gulls which are potential predators of NZFT.
  • Encourage other people to respect wildlife and learn more about NZFT behaviour.
  • People living adjacent to breeding grounds can watch out for and report (to DOC or Police) vehicles, dogs, horses within refuges and people anywhere who disregard seasonally roped-off areas.
  • Keep your dogs under control at the beach - don't  let them chase birds or wander into dune areas. No dogs are allowed in wildlife refuges.


Donate to the New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust

Your donation will help help the Trust to protect New Zealand's most nationally threatened bird.

Read our profile about volunteer Jane Vaughn who walks every day to keep fit and much of the year also treads carefully on the Mangawhai sand spit and Wildlife Refuge where she volunteers with the Department of Conservation coordinating the volunteers who look after the NZ fairy tern. Read more, click here

Jane, in orange, celebrating the launch of the Tara-Iti, the NZ Fairy Tern Charitable Trust boat with Abby Meagher who was DoC’s Ranger for Community Relations.  

Photo/Sandra Bogart