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 4945 reviews)

Best trip I have ever taken

There are many layers to this trip
1. The Group - It was really fun being in a group, and our group was really fun! Sometimes I hung out with people in my family, sometimes I hung out with someone else in the group. This variety and freedom was very enjoyable.
2. The Guides - Koru and Ash were sooo great. Koru is a polished, learned and experienced leader. Ash is a fabulous cook, so much fun, and cared about each of us on the trip.
3. The Country - Stunning! We covered so much of the South Island that we were able to see many sides of it's weather and terrain. Really great route.
4. Activities - It was great sharing a physical activity with others, something I know brings people together. Hiking was great. At the end of a long hike was a fabulous surprise, like a glacial lake with ice burgs, or a beautiful high-mountain vista, or a glo-worm tunnel. Biking was super fun, and I wish there had been one more day of it. In hind site I personally would have selected the biking 3day excursion. The kayaking was great. Heavy chop or glassy lakes, we kayaked in it.
5. Accommodations - These were just great. As nice as it can be being out in the countryside. I loved how we all ate together every meal.
5. Pace - I thought the trip was very well planned. Just when we needed a break in the beginning from jet lag, and our trip activities, a two day respite was there in Queenstown where we could recharge. I recharged and my family bungy jumped! Also, activities were structured so that the not so keen could bail out at a stopping point.
Ginny Nayden Review Image
– Maryland, United States
Rimu, January 2017
Read Reviews

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.

Get your FREE Brochure Now!
Active Adventures Brochure