A colony of the world's rarest gull has established itself in Napier, and Hawke's Bay Regional Council is asking everyone to be respectful of the birds.
More than 200 black-billed gulls, which are endemic to New Zealand, have set up on Pandora Spit in the Ahuriri Estuary.
HBRC's Terrestrial Ecologist Keiko Hashiba says there has been a massive decline in black-billed gulls since the 1970s, and numbers are still going down.
They are classified as nationally critical, making them rarer than the kiwi, and on the same level as kākāpō.
"It's awesome to see the rarest gull in the world setting up a home in our backyard, our Ahuriri estuary.
"There are more than 200 birds in the colony, but despite this large number they are sitting ducks."
She said the birds are vulnerable as chicks and eggs are left exposed when the parents gather food, or when they feel threatened, as adult birds will fly up.
"Because of this it's important to keep a respectful and very safe distance."
Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Community, Chris Wootton said key threats include introduced predators and human disturbance.
"People can help black-billed gulls to survive by leaving nesting colonies alone during the breeding season - between September and January - and keeping dogs on leads.
"Dogs can kill chicks and destroy nests so we're urging dog owners to stay away from the area."
Disturbing protected birds is an offence under the Wildlife Act, and can result in imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of $100,000.
• Pukeiti sighting of native bird toutouwai, first time in 112 years
• Whanganui Museum: Celebrating native birds
• Rare native bird gets help from Hawke's Bay winery
• Premium - Drunken wood pigeons detoxing at Whangārei's Native Bird Recovery Centre
"The estuary is a wildlife refuge, so is a really special place for species like these gulls.
"We're asking the community to be respectful of the birds as they raise their families and keep clear," Wootton said.
Meanwhile, DoC will be undertaking large scale pest control in the Ruahine Range to protect whio (blue duck) and kiwi chicks which are hatching at the moment.
Data has shown an explosion of pests in the northern section of the range.
In May 2018, only one per cent of tracking tunnels showed signs of rats.
By May this year, the population had boomed with 61 per cent of tunnels showing rats, and it was 74 per cent by August.
DOC Manawatu's Operations Manager Moana Smith-Dunlop said pest control gives native wild life a fighting chance.
"We know a plague of hungry predators is coming for our taonga species.
"A community-led stoat trapping network in the Northern Ruahine makes a valuable contribution to protecting vulnerable native species but is inadequate on its own to deal with the scale of damage we're likely to see in the Northern Ruahine forest this year."
DoC will be carrying out aerial drops of 1080, and has worked closely with iwi, neighbouring landowners and key stakeholders ahead of the operation.
Warning signs will be put up at all access points around the treatment area.