Getting around

How Kākāpō Get Around

The kākāpō is a big bird that can’t fly. Find out how this mysterious “parrot of the night” travels.


Walking and ClimbingBig bird on small branch

The kākāpō is the heavyweight champion of the parrot world; smaller females typically weighing 1.4kg, and males 2.2kg. Fat reserves of a kilogram or more can be added prior to a breeding season.


It is thought that, many hundreds of thousands of years ago, the kākāpō was probably a typical, lightweight parrot that flew through the air to travel and gather its food.


But the process of evolution without the presence and effect of mammals in New Zealand saw the bird give away its flying skills, put on weight, and become a good hiker and climber instead, with powerful claws.



Kākāpō also have thighs typical of New Zealand’s more famous All Black rugby forwards, allowing them to walk several kilometres at a time, and to turn on a fair burst of speed as well.


Their wings are still large, but now have little more use than to slow it down when it leaps from the top of low trees and help kākāpō maintain their balance while running or climbing.


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