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Tūturiwhatu - NZ Dotterel

The endangered New Zealand dotterel was once widespread and common. Now there are only about 2500 birds left, making dotterels more at risk than some species of kiwi. 

We can all make a difference for these cute little birds that camouflage easily into their sandy beach environments, by joining local protection groups, staying away from roped-off areas, and keeping dogs and vehicles off beaches and sandspits. 

About the Tūturiwhatu

The dotterel is a small shorebird found on sandy beaches, sandspits and tidal estuaries.

They live on North Island beaches from North Cape to Cape Kidnappers on the east coast and New Plymouth to Port Waikato on the West coast.

The Tūturiwhatu is pale grey and brown on its head, back and wings. They are white underneath and this changes to orange before and during the breeding season (September to February).

Tūturiwhatu make a high pitched "chip chip" and you will often hear a dotterel before you see one. If they feel that their nest is under threat the adult dotterel might try to distract you by running or pretending to have a broken wing. 


A well camouflaged Tūturiwhatu on an East Coast beach

Threats to the Tūturiwhatu:

  • Introduced predators (cats, dogs, mustelids and hedgehogs) kill eggs and chicks. Cats and mustelids also kill adult birds.

  • Nests are easily trampled or disturbed by people, dogs and vehicles. 

  • Loss of habitat due to coastal development, sand erosion, very high tides and storm surges  


Eggs on a shell nest

The impacts of coastal development on habitat, introduced predators and disturbance during breeding seasons are all factors in the drop in numbers of the Tūturiwhatu, NZ Dotterel.

What you can do

When visiting dotterel areas
  • Stay out of roped-off areas and follow the signs.

  • Keep dogs and vehicles off beaches

  • If you see a NZ dotterel feigning injury (it may ‘drag’ a wing as if it is broken), it probably has a nest nearby, so move away slowly.

In your community - become kaitiaki (guardians) 
  • Volunteer with a local community group for a full list of groups see here.

  • Keep your cat in at night.

  • Get kids or schools involved

Visiting parks and beaches
  • Leave nesting birds alone.

  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 

  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.

  • Do not drive on beaches 

  • Keep to formed tracks .

With dogs
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.

  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.

  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.

  • Learn about the Lead the Way programme which encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.

Buy Bennetto's Hot Chocolate

Sip on what we think is the world's most delicious hot chocolate, and support efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats at the same time!

How You Can Help

"Bennetto's hot chocolate is proud to support efforts to protect efforts to educate people and protect the habitat of the endangered tūturiwhatu NZ dotterel" Lucy Bennetto, Founder 

A delicious hot chocolate with benefits

Every time you buy Bennetto's hot chocolate with a Tūturiwhatu NZ dotterel on the front, 10% of profits are donated to the Endangered Species Foundation to help profile endangered species and what needs to be done to protect their habitats.

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