Codfish Island

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Codfish Island
Whenua Hou (Māori)
Stewart island2.png
Map of Stewart Island, with Codfish Island to the west.
Coordinates46°47′S 167°38′E / 46.783°S 167.633°E / -46.783; 167.633
Total islands1
Area14 km2 (5.4 sq mi)
Highest elevation250 m (820 ft)[1]
RegionSouthland Region

Codfish Island or Whenua Hou is a small island (14 km2 or 5.4 sq mi) located to the west of Stewart Island/Rakiura in southern New Zealand. It reaches a height of 250 m (820 ft) close to the south coast.

The English name "Codfish Island" refers to the endemic blue cod or rawaru / pakirikiri, which is fished commercially in surrounding waters by trapping in baited pots. The Māori-language name "Whenua Hou" means "new land".[2] Codfish Island is home to Sirocco, an internationally famous kakapo, a rare species of parrot.


Following the eradication of possums and rats in 1998 and the transfer of weka to other islands, Codfish is a predator-free bird sanctuary and the focus of kakapo recovery efforts. It holds the majority of the breeding population of critically endangered kakapo. In 2002, 24 kakapo chicks fledged on the island. In 2009 and 2016, 33 and 32 chicks fledged respectively.[3] Its most famous resident is Sirocco, a kakapo born in 1997; Sirocco became the government's "Official Spokesbird for Conservation" in 2010.[4]

Codfish Island is also home to southern short-tailed bats, kākā, fernbirds, red-fronted and yellow-crowned parakeet, Pacific black ducks and a recently introduced population of yellowheads (mohua).

The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because of its significance as a breeding site for several species of seabirds, including Fiordland and yellow-eyed penguins, and mottled, Cook's and Whenua Hou diving petrels.[5]


The island is visited by scientific researchers and Department of Conservation field workers along with volunteers working on conservation programs. The sole hut is located at Sealer's Bay in the northeast, with access by light aircraft or helicopter. The island is closed to casual visitors and unauthorised landing is prohibited.

Tiny Codfish Island is home to about half the world's remaining kakapo

Coordinates: 46°47′S 167°38′E / 46.783°S 167.633°E / -46.783; 167.633

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Codfish Island (Whenuahou), Southland - NZ Topo Map". Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  2. ^ Te Kohanga Ote Whenua Hou, pers comm
  3. ^ "Whenua Hou - Codfish Island - Kākāpō Recovery". Kākāpō Recovery. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  4. ^ Milne, Amy (15 January 2010). "Sirocco chills out on Codfish Island". The Southland Times. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  5. ^ BirdLife International. (2012). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Codfish Island. Downloaded from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) on 31 January 2012.

External links[edit]