News & Insights

Seatoun Seabird Survey

Refurbishment of the historic Seatoun Wharf had the potential to disrupt the nesting of indigenous sea and coastal bird species such as little blue penguins, shags and oystercatchers. Cardno staff surveyed the wharf and surrounding habitats to assess this potential risk. 

Wellington City Council’s resource consent for the refurbishment of Seatoun Wharf included a condition that required surveys to be undertaken during the period September to January (inclusive) to confirm that there were no coastal birds or seabirds nesting within 100 metres of the worksite(s). If nests of specific species were located then works were required to be delayed until nesting was complete.

The Seatoun Wharf provides docking for the Wellington cross-harbour ferry and is a popular recreation facility. The consent condition could require works to be delayed for up to five months during the nesting season. This would significantly affect the progress of the works and the usability of the wharf.

  • The species identified in the resource consent were penguins, red-billed gulls, oystercatchers, white-fronted terns and shags.
  • The works area comprised 100 m either side of the foot of the wharf, on the seaward side of the road.
  • No assessment of effects had been undertaken prior to granting of the consent to identify what species may be using the area, and how they could be potentially affected.

The desktop review identified that 73 indigenous bird species occur within a 10 km radius of Seatoun. Of these, 45 species use coastal areas but 5 species don’t breed in New Zealand. Twenty-three of the coastal species had been seen near Seatoun, but the habitat was potentially only suitable for 7 of the species.

Sand dune where penguins nest

The small dune area is poor penguin nesting habitat with frequent disturbance by humans and dogs

Our visit to Seatoun Beach found poor potential nesting habitat for only one indigenous species kororā/little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor iredalei) and high levels of human and dog disturbance. This was confirmed in a later survey when a dead kororā/little blue penguin was found on the beach with puncture wounds.

We proposed monitoring and mitigation measures to minimise any potential adverse effects from works on kororā/little blue penguin, which has reduced the possibility of works needing to be shut down.

If you would like help with a bird survey, or how to address potential adverse effects, contact Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf.

For more information contact:

Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf
Terrestrial Ecology Lead - New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 566 0922