Pāpango (NZ Scaup)

Aythya novaeseelandiae (Pāpango)

Pāpango or Scaup are gregarious diving ducks common throughout New Zealand. Compact and blackish, they have the silhouette of a bath-toy duck.

Interesting Pāpango Fact! 
Pāpango are quite unlike any other resident duck species. Dark and squat with a rounded profile, they often occur in large flocks, floating with cork-like buoyancy!

Habitat and Distribution:
Widely but patchily distributed throughout the North and South Islands. Pāpango often congregate in sheltered areas near willows or reed beds, moving as wind conditions change; although they have favoured locations. They are considered non-migratory despite being capable fliers. Their numbers can fluctuate greatly on otherwise preferred lakes, suggesting at least some localised seasonal movements. Movement is also driven by ice conditions during winter.

Pāpango are diving ducks and spend a lot of time underwater, where they can travel considerable distances. Both sexes are dark-plumaged, but are easily distinguished. The male has dark black-brown plumage with iridescent blue-green head and wings, and lighter mottling on the chest and underparts. His iris is yellow and bill blue-grey. The female is a duller chocolate brown, paler on her underparts. Her iris is brown and bill grey, normally with a ring of white feathers at the base. 

Males have a high pitched whistle call weeee weo-weo weo-weo weo-weoooo. The female call is a low quiet wack wack.

Pāpango obtain most of their food by diving. Prey items include snails, chironomid larvae and caddisfly larvae. Plant material is probably taken also. 

The nest is well concealed on the ground close to the water. Nests may be partially open above, or covered, or have a tunnel leading to a concealed chamber. The nest is a tidy bowl consisting of the surrounding materials, and lined with a layer of down. Breeding mainly occurs between October and March. They nest solitary or in a loose colony. Only females incubate and care for young, but solitary males, or groups of males are often reported close to breeding sites. Chicks often form crèches. 

Conservation Links:

Whio Forever
Kea Conservation Trust
NZ Brown Teal Online
Department of Conservation
Greater Wellington Regional Council
IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species

One of the best places to go around Wellington, especially with kids! Lovely, very friendly and funny animals, beautiful surroundings. For the 3+ hours we spent there, we smiled and laughed as much as for the previous week? month? :-) Little historical area within the reserve is another remarkable spot.

Alexey Volkov

The staff are very welcoming. The animals were super interactive, sometimes to an amusing extent (being followed by a guinea fowl horde was hilarious). The place is huge, and I think we saw about 98% of it. A beautiful array of feathered friends, fish and furry creatures. Was definitely worth the drive. I'll pop by next time I visit NZ.

Nowhere Town

Enjoyed wandering through and petting the animals. Great for a family visit, lots of good picnic spots if you don't want to go to the cafe.

Thomas Beagle

100% recommend !!!! You get to pet a lot of animals ! I was hoping the pigs to be roaming around the grass area, but I was still able to pet them over the fence. It’s a huge reserve and got space to do picnics ! I would recommend giving yourself at least 3 hours to see everything ! They got other attractions like a train tour and apparently weddings too. You can walk along the river and feed trouts at the pond. A lot of birds just walking about so won’t recommend if you’re afraid of birds. 

Dana Young

"Easy way to fill in a fun filled day with the children. Awesome set up, reasonable price, and can take your own lunch or eat in the Cafe. Perfect!"

Emma McGregor

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