Three takahe will be feeling the chill today after being taken from their island refuge in the Hauraki Gulf and flown to Fiordland to start a new life.
It is a homecoming of sorts for the takahe. The birds were born and raised on the Tiritiri Matangi island sanctuary north of Auckland from a population originally from the Murchison Mountains in the South Island.
The move back south yesterday was the first time takahe have been transferred from an island to the area where the remnant population of about 170 threatened birds lives.
DoC island ranger Jennifer Haslam said the three birds, named Hauraki, Tiri and Tango, were offspring of birds brought to the island in the early 1990s.
Hauraki, 18 months, and Tango, six months, were brothers while Tiri, not directly related, was 3 years old.
They were selected for their single status and it was hoped the three would find love in the cold climate, and pair up with Fiordland takahe and help diversify the gene pool.
Ms Haslam said removing the fit and healthy birds now would reduce the chances of inbreeding within the small population of 11 takahe left on Tiritiri Matangi.
Ms Haslam said the three takahe would spend the winter at DoC's takahe unit at Burwood Bush near Te Anau and once they had shown they could adapt to living and feeding in a tussock grassland environment, including getting used to snow, they would be released into the Murchison Mountains.
Tiritiri Matangi was one of four island sanctuaries including Maud (in the Marlborough Sounds), Mana and Kapiti islands used to breed small additional populations of takahe.
The flightless takahe, the largest member of the rail family, was rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains in 1948.
DoC's work to recover the species has been focused on establishing self-sustaining populations in Fiordland and on predator-free islands.
Since the late 1980s DoC had been managing takahe nests to boost chick production.