Lost seabirds given helping hand getting home after crash landing in King Country

The birds were released on Thursday last week.
The birds were released on Thursday last week. Photo credit: Otorohanga Kiwi House

Two seabirds needed a helping hand getting home after crash landing more than 60km inland last week.

The wayward tāiko/black petrel were found "dishevelled and disorientated" near the towns of Manaiti (Benneydale) and Taumarunui on Wednesday, the Department of Conservation (DoC) said, prompting rescuers to jump into action.

Kina Tweeddale, DoC's community ranger in the Maniapoto District, said the department found out about the birds after they "caused a stir on local social media".

"We quickly realised we had to step in to ensure these two tāiko got back on track for their seasonal migration to Central America," Tweeddale said on Monday.

Tweeddale said DoC enlisted the help of Otorohanga Kiwi House and a release and rescue plan was "quickly put into action".

Jo Russell, manager of the Otorohanga Kiwi House said after the birds were brought to them by members of the public a vet looked over them and found they were in "surprisingly good condition" considering the situation they had found themselves in.

After the birds were given the all-clear by the vet, the tāiko, which are classified as being nationally vulnerable, were taken to Raglan.

On Thursday evening they were released on Mt Karioi, in an area managed by local conservation group Karioi Project.

"It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but it's part and parcel of the collaboration of working in conservation," Russell said.

DoC's seabird specialist Graeme Taylor, who helped advise the team at Otorohanga Kiwi House, said the two birds most likely came from either Little Barrier Island or Great Barrier Island, home to the two biggest tāiko colonies in the country.

He said it's not uncommon for the birds to get distracted by lights and end up far from home.

"They can get seriously off-track and finish up in predicaments like this," he said.

"Even so, this is a long way south from their Hauraki Gulf colonies."