Takahē take their first flight with Air New Zealand

After being raised by the Department of Conservation, 18 beautiful takahē were flown to their new home in Kahurangi National Park by Air New Zealand.

Words: Lara Wyatt

If you haven’t met a gorgeous takahē before, let us introduce you. The takahē is a flightless New Zealand native bird that was once thought to be extinct. That was until 1948 when Geoffrey Orbell found takahē in the Murchison Mountains in Fiordland that the push to save the species and increase their numbers was initiated.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) alongside a number of partners and Iwi have been working incredibly hard to get takahē numbers up, and they’re doing so well they’ve been able to release takahē back into the wild for the first time in 100 years.

Since 2012, Air New Zealand and DOC have partnered with the aim of restoring New Zealand’s nature and inspiring others through storytelling. The partnership covers a range of conservation initiatives across New Zealand’s day, short and Great Walks, marine sciences, and the transportation of threatened species and the conservation dogs that monitor and protect them. In 2016 this partnership was extended out to 2022 and has provided DOC with a greater level of certainty in developing its conservation efforts. As part of this partnership, 18 takahē recently boarded an Air New Zealand flight put on especially for the takahē.

This was the first time Air New Zealand had operated a flight specifically to translocate threatened species, so it was a very special occasion. The takahē were flown from Queenstown to Nelson and released in Gouland Downs in the Kahurangi National Park to help establish a new wild population.

Each takahē was given its own seat on the flight and buckled up for safety. This was a momentous event for the flightless birds who all flew together for the first time.

Air New Zealand helps to transport a range of species around the country every year, and as DOC mentions in the video below, the care and attention given to the wildlife is amazing.

Watch the video showing the takahē boarding their Air New Zealand flight, and learn more about the special occasion:

Find out more about Air New Zealand’s work with the Department of Conservation at airnewzealand.co.nz/doc.

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