The kuaka bar-tailed godwit is a tough little bird, and the first arrived at the Foxton Estuary in mid-September.
The young godwits flew 12000km non-stop across the Pacific Ocean from breeding grounds in Alaska for their summer feeding in NZ.
They are the only shorebirds to travel this distance. They cannot fish or rest on the sea or eat or drink on their eight-day flight, and arrive at the estuary with the loss of half their body weight.
The godwits also fly into the Whanganui estuary, Miranda on the Firth of Thames and Christchurch. In March godwits fly back to Alaska to begin breeding in May.
The kuaka/bartailed godwits' breed in Alaska in the northern summer and fly to New Zealand for our summer.
Satellite tracking data has tracked their non-stop flight south across the central Pacific Ocean. Their speed was also tracked at 60km an hour.
Before migration the godwit packs on fat under the skin, in the abdomen and around its heart, which is its main fuel for its long flight south. On arrival the godwits rest and feed intensively to replace the reserves lost in flight.
The return to their breeding grounds in Alaska includes a stopover in the Yellow Sea and North Korea so they arrive in good condition to begin breeding.
For more information: Wildlife Foxton Trust, wildlifefoxton.nz