We sighted a giant petrel off Tapeka Point, in the bay of islands in late October. Very unusual to see this far north and this close in. You could really see the size difference and why they are called giant petrels.

According to DOC their Conservation status is Native seabird, naturally uncommon there are no breeding colonies on mainland New Zealand.

The northern giant petrel is one of the largest petrels, larger than some albatrosses. Other common names: — Nelly, stinkpot, stinker, Antarctic giant petrel.

The aggressive males, in particular, have a reputation as voracious predators and scavengers. They prey on penguins and other birds. They scavenge on dead penguins, other birds and marine mammals. Females have slightly different feeding habits, focusing on squid, fish and crustaceans taken from the surface of the sea. Often seen around fishing boats.

The New Zealand breeding population is around 2500. They nest on the surface in a cup-shaped nest of tussock and other vegetation. The female lays one egg in mid-August to early September. The egg hatches after 60 days and the chick fledges at around 112 days old. Birds start to breed at the age of around 10 years.

The Bay of Islands is a long way from the giant petrel’s breeding grounds, but through winter into early spring they range widely, as far north as 28 degrees south.

Find out more about the Northern Giant Petrel at New Zealand Birds Online http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/northern-giant-petrel