Embracing New Zealand’s Wildlife

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This week was my second week in New Zealand. During this week I have been able to see more of the town of Christchurch and experience more of what New Zealand has to offer. I was especially interested in their wildlife breeding efforts, to try and bring back endangered species. It was also nice to see the beauty of Christchurch itself.

         The kiwi is a bird that is incapable of flying and can only be found in New Zealand. They are endangered because they are easy prey and 90% of the fledglings do not reach adulthood. It is the national bird of New Zealand and there are multiple programs that are working on getting them off the endangered species list. Willowbank is a wildlife preserve doing everything they can to protect this species. They will go out into the wild and find kiwi eggs, bring them back to the preserve, and raise them to adulthood. They are working on breeding kiwi and releasing the ones they can. They are also advocating for the Kiwi, showing people what they are and that they need help. The kiwi is an odd-looking bird, but I believe any effort to save the kiwi population is worth supporting.

         The town of Christchurch has a mixture of beautiful views and a city center that includes a museum and botanical gardens. I hiked a 5-mile trail to the top of a mountain in Christchurch and could see for miles and look down on the city of Lyttleton. I am not a huge plant person but walking through the botanical gardens was very interesting. I will have to say my favorite part was the ducks. A New Zealand native saw a few of us admiring the ducks and explained a little about their species. The ducks we saw were paradise ducks, the females are the colorful ones (U.S. birds the male is the colorful one) and they mate for life. So, we saw a male and female pair with 4-5 ducklings.         My second week in New Zealand will be one to remember. This week, I have had more time to see the beauty of New Zealand. I have also been able to witness their work in protecting and supporting the kiwi population. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store! (Submitted during Week 2).