Kākāpō Habitat

It is known that kākāpō used to live from the far north of the North Island to the south of the South Island; from near sea-level to near the tops of mountains; from flat land to very steep land; from dry areas to wet areas; in cold areas and hot areas; in forests and in shrubland and tussock grasslands. This is known because sub-fossil remains have been found, along with discoveries in Maōri midden (kitchen waste-pile) sites.

If kākāpō used to be so widespread and adaptable, why can you not just go “down the road” and see a kākāpō, or have one living in your backyard?

These days, to think about habitat for kākāpō means thinking about offshore islands – protected areas of natural vegetation free from introduced mammals. A refuge, and hard to visit.

If there are any kākāpō left on the mainland of New Zealand now – which is highly unlikely – they will be in the remotest corners of wilderness; in a place like Fiordland National Park, where the last captures on the mainland occurred.


In 2013, the remaining kākāpō population live on three islands – Codfish Island (Whenua Hou), Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) and Anchor Island. In the past birds have been managed on a number of other islands around New Zealand, and it is possible that one or two of these islands may become management sites in the future.

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