Back to Report

Thriving Whio

While 2022-23 was a tricky summer for monitoring whio, the population on the mounga is stable and there are increasing reports of the elusive native blue ducks beyond the park boundary. 

DOC senior ranger Joe Carson says lots of rain and high rivers last summer made accessing and surveying this taonga species across 10 rivers on Mt Taranaki more of a challenge.  

Current estimates are of 50-60 pairs of whio, regarded as a self-sustaining population. Two years ago a record 78 duckling whio were counted. It’s thanks to a big team effort between Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, DOC and TMP in creating a network of 1100 traps on the mountain’s southern side, as well as 1080 operations.  

Pouatawhi/lead ranger Tāne Houston says as the trapping network continues to provide safety margins in and along some of the rivers. “It’s allowing whio to spread through the river systems, where they are protected by traps.” 

Joe says it’s heartening to hear increasing reports from trampers, farmers and members of the public who are seeing whio on their walks and in streams outside of the national park. 

“Ten years ago people didn’t know what they were. Now when I go into schools, students tell me of sightings and where they’ve seen them and I have people calling in or sending images of them. Whio have been really adopted by Taranaki, we even have a whio rugby team.” 

It’s a real success story as whio were classed as ‘functionally extinct’ from the maunga in 1945, due to introduced predators.