The Cape Petrel is commonly seen at Rakiura. Like the albatross, it’s a true seabird, coming onshore only to breed. It also drinks seawater and cries salt tears through its tubular nostrils. In the past there were breeding colonies of petrels on mainland Aotearoa and their guano (excrement) helped to nourish our forest ecosystems.
Cape Petrel chicks used to be an important food source for southern Māori, as tītī or muttonbirds, but harvest is restricted now to sooty shearwaters from islands around Stewart Island, and grey-faced petrels from islands off the north-eastern coast of the North Island—and only by tangata whenua with traditional rights to harvest. These birds migrate in such vast numbers they are described as a black cloud, traveling between our islands and the north Pacific, guiding the navigators of the past and present