Shorebirds include those birds primarily using our coastal beaches. These include New Zealand
Dotterel, gulls, terns and oystercatchers, plus some shag species. Birds in
this group are far more likely to be seen than seabirds. Currently Variable
Oystercatchers and New Zealand Dotterel breed on Main Beach, Mount Maunganui.
Shags breed on the trees around the base of Mauao, and gulls have a
colony on Moturiki.

Pied Shag

The largest black and white shag in New Zealand, the Pied Shag is also very common. Nests are almost year round at Mauao, with colonies in the trees on the Matakana Island side of the mountain.

Pied Shag – NZ Birds on Line

Reef Heron

The Reef Heron is a dark grey bird which lives on the rocky shore, and is most often seen on the old stone jetty on Mauao. They breed on the North end of Motuotau.

Reef Heron – NZ Birds on Line

New Zealand Dotterel

60 Rena New Zealand Dotterel were kept at Te Maunga Wildlife Hospital during the Rena oil spill. Mauao has a beach on the Matakana Island side which you could spot these birds. They also visit the Mount Main Beach if no humans are about. During January 2014, a pair nested in the middle of the main beach!

New Zealand Dotterel – NZ Birds on Line

Northern subspecies adult in breeding plumage catching crab. Te Puru, October 2009. Image © Tony Whitehead by Tony Whitehead


Variable and South Island Pied Oystercatchers are both present on Mauao, with the former often breeding near the start of the Mauao Base Track, and folk surveying the boardwalk can easily see them. These are most regularly all black. 

Variable Oystercatcher. Photo taken in Northland, January 2008 by Peter Reese

Variable Oystercatcher – NZ Birds on Line

South Island Pied Oystercatchers breed mainly in the South Island and can be seen with the Variable group on the Matakana Island beach on Mauao. These birds are all black and white.

Pied morph adult Oystercatcher. Photo taken in Northland, January 2008 by Peter Reese

South Island Pied Oystercatcher – NZ Birds on Line

White-faced Heron

First noted in the 1950s, the White-faced Heron now is one of our more common birds, and can be seen in a variety of habitats. It is at home in both field and shore. Can be an opportunistic feeder, including silvereyes and mice in the diet. 

White-Faced Heron – NZ Birds on Line

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