The Rock | Bay of Islads Adventure Cruise

North Island Robin

Bird Life

The singing North Island Robin or Toutouwai

The North Island Robin


The North Island Robin

New Zealand is home to a vast array of local birds which you cannot find anywhere else. These endemic flora and fauna grow and thrive in New Zealand. One such example is the North Island Robin or Toutouwai in Maori. Given its name, you can only see the Toutouwai in New Zealand's Northern Island. These birds are naturally friendly and trusting. The North Island Robin often comes close to people, even occasionally standing on a person's shoe. Don't be surprised when one of these birds stands on your foot. You will be able to see them on your Bay of Islands Cruise up close and personal! The North Island Robin is just one of three sub-species of New Zealand Robin. The other two can be found on each of the main islands; the South Island and Stewart Island.

How do North Island Robins look like?

North Island Robins or Toutouwai are dark, slaty-grey with a pale greyish-white lower breast and belly. The upper feathers are dark and have pale shafts, so they Robins appear faintly streaked. The North Island Robins can measure up to 18 cm from its beak to the tip of its tail. They can weigh about 35 grams and have long, thin legs with an upright stance. You can somehow identify the Toutouwai's age and sex by the coloration of its feathers. Males that are older than 3-years have almost black feathers over their upperparts. Females and young males below 2-years, however, have commonly pale to dark grey feathers above. Both male and female Toutouwai have a small patch of white feathers at the base of their beaks, which is covered most of the time. These feathers are occasionally being flashed when the Toutouwai are interacting with other robins and small forest birds.

Places you can find this New Zealand local bird

You can find the North Island Robin or Toutouwai in both native and exotic forests in the Northern Island and in the Bay of Islands. You can mainly spot them in central North Island, from Taranaki, through the Bay of Plenty. Populations also occur on Little Barrier and the Kapiti Islands. Since 1991, Toutouwai populations have been established on Bay of Islands where there are no predators such as Mokoia, Tiritiri, Matangi, Tuhua, Matiu/Somes, Mana, and Moturoa. Populations have also been established in mainland sites such as reserves like the Karori Sanctuary and Bushy Park Reserve, where they are protected by predator-proof fences.


Male Robins are known as songsters of the forest, and the Toutouwai is no exception. Our guests who are cruising on The Rock New Zealand always look forward to spot the local wildlife in their natural habitat here in the Bay of Islands. Local New Zealand birds such as the North Island Robin are mostly seen from August to December, the males spend a lot of time singing loudly atop high perches in the forest canopy, especially in the morning. Bachelor males spend a lot of time throughout the day singing, attempting to attract a mate. A full male robin song consists of a mixture of simple notes that are combined and sustained for up to 30 minutes, with regular short pauses. Get the opportunity to hear these songsters of the forest sing when you go on your Bay of Islands Adventure Cruise. 

Are you planning to head to the Northern islands? Explore the Bay of Islands aboard The Rock Adventure Cruise. Find out about the different types of cruises available and see which one fits you. Check our different cruises available in the Bay of Islands and make a booking ahead of your trip to save you more time for planning. 



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