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The Mokohinau stag beetle is one of the world’s most endangered species, occupying less than an acre of scrub on a rocky tower in the middle of the ocean. Its habitat is so precarious that Auckland Zoo and DOC are hoping to safeguard a population of beetles on the mainland as a form of insurance—that is, if there are any left.
At Auckland Zoo there’s an elderly primate whose unobtrusive presence and minimalist surroundings understate her significant role in our history. Isolated from the other chimps, she looks lonely, but this is her choice. She doesn’t get along with her fellow primates and prefers her solitary enclosure to their park-like surroundings. When her longtime friend, Bobbie, died four years ago, Janie, 58, became the last of the famous tea party chimpanzees.
We've changed our minds about zoos should be over the past generation. Let's visit Auckland Zoo to figure out what we've learned...
Experience tigers in a completely new way as four cubs grow up to become part of a rare kind of family at Australian’s Dreamworld.
In 1845 Governor George Grey set aside 80 hectares of central Auckland for a park. On the crest of an ancient volcano, it is a memorial, a recreation space, a green heart for the city and its citizens.
Let's learn about something close to home—at the centre of our city.
The fantail is one of our commonest native birds, loved for its flamboyant tail, acrobatic flight and inquisitive friendliness. Yet life is no bed of roses for these charming little birds. Between August and February each year they pour their energy into reproduction, only to have almost all of their infant offspring devoured by rats and other predators.
Seabird scientists are creating a fake home for shags on the Noises, an island group off the coast of Auckland, in the hope that the Hauraki Gulf’s rapidly diminishing spotted shag population will be fooled into thinking it’s a great place to start a family.
In a succession of difficult postings—South Australia, New Zealand, South Africa—the energetic George Grey proved himself one of the British Empire's most able governors. Yet when he returned to New Zealand in 1861 for a second term, the magic was fading. The colony was on the brink of civil war, and local politicians were unwilling to allow Grey his former power. As an escape from the increasing pressure and frustration of public life, Grey purchased Kawau Island, building a grand house there amid exotic gardens and filling it with treasures. On the centenary of the death of Sir George Grey—soldier, statesman, explorer, philanthropist—we pay a lingering visit to Mansion House.
Many Aucklanders know Kawau Island, but how many know it's truly weird history?
Sea turtles survived a meteor that killed the dinosaurs, millions of years of predator attacks, even the slow warming of the seas, only to be threatened by nylon fishing lines and plastic bags. Those that wash up in New Zealand almost always need the help of humans.
Here's a lockdown life-hack... wear your home on your back like a turtle and you can travel anywhere!
The fascinating secrets of the South Atlantic Ocean’s only atoll have remained hidden from humankind… until now.
Josh James reinvents adventure and manhood on the West Coast, with the world watching.
The spade brigade, as they were dubbed, planted 280,000 seedlings—a city of trees—into which a host of rare birds and reptiles were released. Within sight of New Zealand's largest city, Tiritiri Matangi is now a template for island restoration and endangered species management.
Our ground-based native bird species would be lost on the mainland, but have found safety in lockdown on offshore islands.
It may look like a subterranean soft toy, but a prowling peripatus is anything but cuddly. The "velvet worm" is a voracious predator with a startling method of catching prey, and one of the forest's more unlikely denizens.
Rolling a fresh cigarette, Bill Ballantine gives a sardonic laugh as he recalls the headline in the local newspaper when New Zealand’s first marine reserve was opened in 1977—“Nothing to do at Goat Island Bay any more.” He had fought for 12 years to protect five square kilometres of marine habitat on the Northland coast. That protection was finally in place. To Ballantine it was the start of a new era. To the newspaper, voicing community opposition, it was the end of one.
Let's learn about marine protection, and the making of Goat Island.
Enter the mysterious world of spinner dolphins and discover how and why they perform the complex aerial activities, unique to their kind.
Here we are, back in lockdown. But before we go out of our minds, let's delve into the many minds of the octopus.
New Zealanders have become accustomed to sea freight slipping silently in and out of the country’s ports without incident. But on October 5, that impression of well-oiled efficiency foundered on Astrolabe Reef, and our coastlines suddenly seemed acutely exposed. What went wrong?
Nearly ten years ago the Rena slammed into Astrolabe Reef. What can we learn from that tragedy?
Pushing through a field of brash ice, an intrepid New Zealand expedition closes in on the bottom of the world. Their goal: the Antarctic Circle. Their route: wherever wind, wave and ice permit a passage along the western shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. Their means: three fibreglass kayaks and a fair measure of grit.
Enjoy the antics of two orphaned baby gorillas as they journey through their first year of life.
The sun powers our planet and provides us life. It’s as simple as that—though the processes can be mysterious and the applications surprising. In December last year, a bunch of Kiwis with a budget of less than $40,000 proved that it was possible to drive the length of the country using nothing but sunlight.
New Zealanders boast one of the highest dog ownership rates in the world—one third of households own at least one dog and 300 kennel clubs across the country run hundreds of dog shows a year. The competition will always be fierce, but there can only be one Best in Show.
Only two more days in alert level 2, four more days of home-schooling. Love it or hate it, our time Together at Home is drawing to a close. Let's go to the dog show...
The epic journey of the world’s most arid continent has driven the evolution of its bizarre pouched mammals, until Australia became the realm of marsupials.
For stargazers, the clear skies over Tekapō afford a remarkable view of the heavens.
In fading light, a fairy prion returns to its roost on Mana Island as a host of nocturnal creatures are just beginning their day. After concerted conservation efforts, the island is now a hive of activity after dark.
In the world of Extreme Animals, meet the Babies! From the cute and the seemingly helpless, to the weird and sometimes downright creepy, get ready for a top ten countdown of the world’s most extreme animal infants.
OK, it's weird to think about how we eat... but let's think about how we eat.
In our rush through modern life, we leave behind a mountain of rubbish that gets a little higher every year. The problem starts in our homes—so does the solution.
By night, a menagerie of species rises to the surface of the ocean—rarely glimpsed, and in some cases never photographed.
You don’t need a PhD to find a new species, unearth a rare fungus or name an asteroid. New Zealanders with no specialist training are contributing to scientific research by monitoring streams, spotting rare plants, counting the birds visiting their back gardens, and putting GPS trackers on their cats.
Perched way out in the Pacific, Rangatira Island is pockmarked with thousands, maybe millions, of seabird burrows. Its forest remnants and rocky platforms also shelter some unique and critically endangered birds. But even endangered birds can make a tasty snack and, on a crowded island, there might not be enough room for everyone to rear their chicks.
Although he is best remembered for the Underwater World on Auckland's waterfront which still carries his name 22 years after his death, that project was just the last in a life brimming with adventure, discovery, originality and zest.
Would you like to be a pioneer? What would it feel like to explore a world no one else had seen?
So, you don't have any legs. What do you do? You build some new ones that are even more awesome.
A drowned volcano, jutting out into the ocean, shelters one of the world’s tiniest marine dolphins. Fresh meltwater from Southern Alps rushes down braided rivers, washes food into the sea and percolates into wetlands that provide a home for the long lived and mysterious eels.
Kids get slimy with jellyfish...
Drifting at any depth in all the world’s oceans, these creatures range from an Arctic species with a bell the size of a car, to a venomous microscopic Australian. Carnivorous predators, jellyfish swarm around our coasts and litter our beaches, yet we know surprisingly little about them. Some of the most recognisable species don’t even qualify as true jellyfish. One such, a Portuguese Man of War (Physalia physalis), its inflated bladder keeping it poised at the surface, is not even a single animal, but a sizeable colony containing four types of minute, highly modified polyps.
Look closer. The straggling plants on the riverbank, the so-called weeds in the garden, the insect-eaten leaves on the forest’s edge—often ploughed, sprayed or simply ignored—are finding their way back into the medicine chest. And Maori herbal remedies, once derided and outlawed by an act of Parliament, are revealing their curative power.
Lots of plants have medicinal properties, even in New Zealand. Let's learn about rongoa.
Alone in the Pacific, halfway to Tonga, sit the Kermadec Islands. This remote archipelago is New Zealand’s northernmost frontier and our toehold on the tropics. Everything that lives on and around these young islands has travelled far to be here and a unique mix of creatures thrive in its warm waters. As a marine community the Kermadec is unrivalled in New Zealand waters.
Follow us north, 1000 kilometres north to the Kermadecs Islands.
In the battle for Chunuk Bair, Imperial Britain’s campaign to occupy the Gallipoli peninsula reached its harsh climax, and fighting centre stage were the soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Artist Ion Brown’s re-creation of the scene—a sesquicentennial gift to the people of New Zealand from the country’s armed forces—celebrates the unquenchable resolve of the few in the face of a massive Turkish counter-assault.
Takahē numbers are rising by 10 per cent a year. The problem now is where to put them.
Once thought extinct, takahē have endured a lockdown to protect them—just like us! Did you know you can knit your own baby takahē? With a fork?
On New Zealand’s remote Open Bay Islands, New Zealand fur seals protect their newborns from surging seas, starvation, and predation by great white sharks.
They are the supertankers of the sky, ferrying billions of tonnes of water vapour around the atmosphere and making possible life on land.
Like a planet in space, a rainbow trout egg sparks and crackles as biological processes begin a miraculous transformation, the same that progresses silently in the inscrutable waters of New Zealand’s wild rivers every day. But even in clean rivers, the odds are stacked against this small vessel of life—only one in a thousand eggs will hatch and survive until adulthood.
New Zealand’s Poor Knights Islands is considered one of the world’s top dive sites and for good reason, with a rich collection of extraordinary characters and bizarre behaviours, including a unique congregation of stingrays and sex-changing Sandager's wrasse.
Let's dive in to the pristine waters of the Poor Knights...
Lichens—like us at the moment—are playing the long game. Let's learn some lessons from our most patient plants...
Today we go hunting for the creepy and crawler critters in our backyards and berms!
In the cold, steep world of the fiords, tannins block out sunlight to the world below. The fiords are cold and inhospitable in winter, when they receive little light and freeze over at their extremes. In this unforgiving world there are no second chances
An Otago man out for a walk made a significant palaeontological discovery.
Most of the stellar yachting careers of New Zealand’s America’s Cup sailors began in humble seven-foot boats—a class now a century old—designed by a Public Works employee who couldn’t swim, and who was too hard up to build anything larger.
It's breezy out there... let's learn how to harness the wind.
In the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand’s most active volcano fills the sky with plumes of white cloud. Sterile and inhospitable, the forces that built White Island influence the seas around it.
Whakaari/White Island was recently the scene of tragedy, but it's also a natural wonderland that we can learn from.
Water, our most precious natural asset, offers amenity, a habitat for aquatic species and a focus for recreation. But it also turns the turbines of industry and powers New Zealand’s agricultural economy. Economic development and environmental integrity are at odds in a struggle for control over this great resource. Are we mortgaging our future for a little more economic growth?
A 'weather bomb' threatens the nation, but not to fear, a bit of foul weather creates an opportunity to create...
Of all the world’s amphibians, the most evolutionarily unusual and critically endangered is the Archey’s frog. The smallest of New Zealand’s four native frogs, this ‘living fossil’ hasn’t changed much in 150 million years. It didn’t evolve ears or a voice, prefers the forest floor to water, and can’t leap without landing in a bellyflop. Why are Archey’s frogs so strange, and what makes them so important?
Frogs live in the space between the worlds of wet and dry. What can we learn from them today?
After three weeks’ training and with limited outdoor experience, an Auckland teenager took that first step on a journey of more than 7000 kilometres. Could you do the same?
Every spring, rural traditions play out in miniature in the ring at the local pet day.
After centuries of whaling that nearly silenced the song of humpbacks, the singing giants are making a steady recovery in most places. Yet the population of the South Pacific that was hardest hit by Soviet whaling in Antarctica remains endangered, numbering fewer than 4000 individuals.
Giant carnivorous land snails don’t ask for much: moist leaf litter to burrow into, earthworms to suck up like spaghetti. But if the lower layer of the forest is nibbled away, if sunlight reaches the soil, and if one month of drought follows another, molluscs relying on damp homes struggle to survive.
The lock-down winds on, and even as the end of it seems a while away, the beginning seems an equally distant memory. Let's learn moving slowly, let's learn about snails. Real big ones.
New Zealand’s Kaikoura Peninsula is home to the world’s most acrobatic dolphin species, some of New Zealand’s most robust young fur seals, and an unconventional group of red-billed gull families who defend their chicks from dangers both within and outside the colony.
It's a new week. Let's start it with some dolphins!
As we kiss goodbye to Daylight Savings, we venture south... to Antarctica.
Antarctica is a puzzle that science is racing to solve. The continent shifts from stable to unstable, frozen to melting, without much warning—and we don’t know why, or how. A New Zealand-led expedition journeyed to the heart of the Ross Ice Shelf to find out.
Together-at-homers trace out the 3.1-metres wingspan of a mighty Antipodean albatross.
Albatrosses are good omens for sailors, but are not having too much luck themselves. The population of female wandering albatrosses that nests on Antipodes Island has plummeted by two-thirds in the past 14 years.
With a wingspan of more than three metres, the albatross is a magnificent seabird. But how big is three metres, really?
Nightfall, and the forest comes alive with squeaking. Or it used to. Lesser short-tailed bats are clinging on in a handful of places, their populations blinking out of existence. Yet researchers are only just beginning to learn about our bat species—New Zealand’s only native mammals—and what they’re finding out is pretty weird.
Covid-19 likely came from a bat, so let's get to know the critter that got us into this mess.
Reaching more than six metres in length with a bite force of nearly two tonnes, the great white shark is the most fearsome predator on Earth. Yet despite their reputation as maneaters, great whites are protected in New Zealand as a vulnerable species.
Only in New Zealand do Orca families cooperatively - and ingeniously - hunt rays.
Orca are at the top of the food chain in Northland's sun-kissed harbours.
Like New Zealanders, penguins occupy the margin of land and sea, being dependent on both habitats, and vulnerable to changes in either as well. Their fate is wedded to our coasts, and as scientists have begun to understand, they are a perfect indicator of the health of this fragile boundary too. What can penguins tell us about our seas and shores?
Try one of these penguin craft activities together...
Everyone needs a place to quench their thirst, even bumblebees...
Unaffected by Varroa, tolerant of cold and able to pollinate in enclosed spaces, bumblebees offer new hope for New Zealand’s primary industries. If only we knew how to build a nest they wanted to live in…
Bumblebees don't make honey. And they hibernate in a nest! Let's learn about them...
This is why New Zealand holds the Americas Cup.
The creatures of New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve are safe from humans, but that doesn’t mean life is easy. They are under constant attack from marauding dolphins, diving cormorants, and the sharks and the marlin that live beyond the boundaries of the reserve.
A Sunday inside is not a Sunday wasted... he's some stuff for families to do, Together at Home...
Last October, Chris and Jorinde Rapsey and their two children set off from Cape Reinga to walk Te Araroa, the 3000-kilometre track that runs the length of New Zealand. They lived outdoors for five months and walked an average of 20 kilometres a day. For nine-year-old Elizabeth and six-year-old Johnny, it was an immersive education—a form of learning increasingly absent from the lives of young New Zealanders, even as international research affirms the importance of children spending time in nature.
The first weekend in a new world, locked-down, but no less awesome.
More responses from students of life to the kākāpō colouring challenge!
In a land renowned for its unusual birds, the kākāpō—a giant flightless nocturnal parrot with a bizarre breeding system—has to be one of the strangest.
Responses from kids to the clay starfish challenge.
Little Blue Penguins run the gauntlet to escape great white sharks—but they’re not the only species flirting with death on New Zealand’s famous Stewart Island.
Watch the video, chat with our talking points, and make clay starfish and yummy crackers!