The Grey Ghost – South Island Kokako

Just lately, in the latest edition of the New Zealand Geographic, there has been an article regarding the plight of the South Island Kōkako. I have spent the day reading it and researching more about this bird and I’m hooked. It makes sense to me to truely believe that this bird could still be out there. Long thought to be extinct, this beautiful bird has in 2013 been reclassified from extinct to data deficient. A bunch of people have dedicated countless hours trying to find it but it proves time and time again to be elusive.

I first stumbled upon the existence (or non-existence) of this bird while writing a blog post on the Anti-Crow hut in Arthurs Pass on another blog of mine. I thought at that time how fascinating it was to think such an interesting and beautiful bird was perhaps still out there and of what an interesting story it was. The next time it came to my attention was hiking up the Fennella Valley in the Cobb Dam area and seeing the information left in the huts about the Kokako sightings. Then, most recently, I saw the post on the New Zealand Geographic Instagram regarding the upcoming article on  the continued search.

It’s latest suspected encounters (which have yet to make it to the reports map) have come from the Nelson area, and the history of these encounters are geographically quite widespread. The recent encounters from the map are also largely from the late 9o’s. The male is known to live 20 – 30 years. This highlights the very real possibility that it is out there but also the potential urgency – these birds need our help now! It is known to have an incredibly beautiful call, is bluish grey, with a black face mask and an orange/red wattle.

Locations of recent encounters – taken from

New Zealand is blessed with some incredibly beautiful birds, some of which have previously been thought to be extinct also, but were later found again, namely the Takahe and the Kakapo – which further presents the positive case for this bird still being out there.

I have to confess that I am sadly no bird expert (yet) but am definitely a New Zealand bird enthusiast. My favourite New Zealand birds being our cheeky Kea and our crafty Weka. I do love all our birds though and have recently been making a point to learn more about them and to look out for them on my adventures. I’ve only a small collection of bird photos to date (which I’ll share at a later time), and my wildlife photography skills are hopefully to catch up. Let’s hope this collection can include a photo of our South Island Kokako one day!!

To help the South Island Kokako and to learn more check out the following links;

*Feature image credit – (for now 😛 )




2 thoughts on “The Grey Ghost – South Island Kokako”

  1. I loved reading this! Its so cool finding out about others who are passionate about these birds. I become a hysterical mess whenever I find any articles or books about the South Island Kokako, literally cracking the screen of my phone 2 days ago when I thought I had found an old book about them in the library stacks (but it turned out to about their north island cousin). Ive been interested in the kokako for years, but was always told that when i grew up id be able to start helping and saving them. Im about to turn 15 and have finally realised that I cant wait till I have gone to university and begun my career to attempt to help. Have you read the strategic plan that was written a few years ago? (you should) -Sophie


    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and its even more exciting to hear the enthusiasm of another South Island Kokako enthusiast!!
      I have noticed the strategic plan document on the trust website and read a small amount so far. I’ve downloaded it and intend to read it all and I hope to be able to help in some way too. If even only by spreading the enthusiasm.
      Also…. I cant wait to take my first photo of this beautiful bird 🙂 🙂


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