Request a free Brochure

Get a FREE Active Adventures Brochure

Includes info on all of our trips.

By submitting this request, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Moa

New Zealand's giant flightless bird

moa

Photo by Sciencemag.org

New Zealand’s largest birds probably became extinct within one hundred years of humans first arriving in New Zealand, around 1300 A.D.. However, there were unsubstantiated sightings of moa by whalers and sealers into the 18th and even 19th centuries. Moa were a family of eleven species of flightless birds that were only found within New Zealand. The largest species grew up to 3.7 m (12 ft) tall and weight up to 230 kg (510 lb) – no wonder they were hunted by Maori! They were the only wingless birds known to have existed – even their cousin the flightless kiwi still has little vestigial wings hidden under its feathers. Prior to their extinction, they were the dominant plant-eater in New Zealand’s forests and only had one predator, Haast’s Eagle; the largest eagle ever known to exist and also the victim of extinction following the demise of the moa to hunting by Maori.

Kiwi were long regarded as the closest relative to the moa, but recent studies suggest that either the Australia emu and cassowary or tinamous birds from South America are likely the closest cousins. Female moa grew considerably larger than their mates and weighed almost three times as much, in some cases. Although most images of reconstructed moa skeletons or artists’ impressions of the birds show them standing upright, it is likely that they actually moved along with their head out in front, just like a kiwi does. Despite almost always being portrayed as giants, some species of Moa were actually significantly smaller, much shorter than the height of a person, and some possibly as small as chickens!

Of course, completely lacking wings the question has been asked “how did the moa get to the islands of New Zealand”. It’s thought most likely that moa were already roaming New Zealand prior to it breaking away from the super-continent of Gondwana about 80 million year ago.

Many moa bones, eggs (including over 30 whole eggs), feathers, dehydrated skin and nesting materials have been found from a number of caves and other locations around New Zealand, in particular from the dry Central Otago region.

A preserved Moa (Megalapteryx) foot from the Natural History Museum (photo courtesy Ryan Baumann)

 

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Even better than expected, and I expected a lot

    This was a truly awe inspiring trip---from the mountains to the rain forest to Milford Sound. A friend of mine advised me not to go on this trip. He said if I did, I would never have anything better to look forward to and he may have been right.
    Realizing that an extraordinary amount of work is done by the office and support staff, I still have to say that this trip would not be what it was without the guides, Nick and Tory, going above and beyond what anyone could have expected. They have got to be among the best.
    Thank you to the entire gang at Active Adventures.
    Doug Spitzenberger Review Image
    – South Dakota, United States
    Rimu, March 2017
  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    Everything we hoped for and MORE.

    This was my first trip to New Zealand, and to the southern hemisphere. We had dreamed of this for many years, and it was so much more than we had even hoped for. So many memories and highlights: Morning alpine glow on Mt. Cook. Any day that it was sunny and you could see those amazing mountains. Turquoise alpine lakes. The day we spontaneously stopped at a deserted beach on the west coast, and saw Hector's dolphins frolicking. The picnic on the hill at Braemar's station. The nights at Braemar, the laughing and wine. Racheal (our guide) encouraging me and talking about growing up on a sheep farm while hiking up Key Pass. The stars at night - the Milky Way and upside down Orion! The mystical drive down to Milford Sound in the fog and light rain, and the clearing while on the boat. Going under a waterfall and just yelling in joy. The amazing, kind, funny and interesting people we met on our tour. If you are even thinking about it - go! You will not be disappointed.
    Jeannie Puglisi Review Image
    – Connecticut, United States
    Kiwi, April 2017
  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    Kiwi

    We had a great time. New Zealand is beautiful and our tour guides, Koru and Jess, showed it to us to perfection. Great hikes, terrific food, wonderful companions and ideal locations.
    Ellen Dole Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Kiwi, March 2017
  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    A Marvelous Exprerience

    This trip was worth every penny. We had marvelous lodging that we could not have accessed on our own. Our access to trails, parks and activities was all arranged and all we had to worry about was showing up for the experience. We were truly touched by the extent to which our guides went out of their way to respond to our special food needs. I felt truly safe, supported by the experience, training and good will of our guides. I came home stronger and with new confidence that as an elder I can still take on physically challenging experiences and succeed. What a gift that is.
    Wendy Ball Review Image
    – New York, United States
    Kiwi, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Truly the trip of a lifetime!

    The trip was everything we wanted it to be: We went beyond the tour bus stops to explore the true New Zealand wilderness. Our guides approached every day with good humor and great energy, making every day physically challenging and fun. We can't wait to get out there again.
    Jennifer Johnston Review Image
    – Tennessee, United States
    Rimu, March 2017

 previous

next 

Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

Active Adventures Brochure
no thanks, i don't like free stuff
Get your FREE Brochure Now!
Active Adventures Brochure
close