The New Zealand Birds Online website was launched just over a year ago, and provides a wealth of information, images and sound files on all the species of birds that occur (or have occurred) in New Zealand.
Viewing statistics for the first 12 months also provide a wealth of information, including which bird species have been viewed most often, and where hits on the website originated from. The website was visited over 264,000 times in its first year. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the visits to the website were from New Zealand (73.1%), followed by the United States (8.0%), Australia (4.6%) and the United Kingdom (3.3%)
Of more interest is where in New Zealand the website visits came from – particularly when compared with population size. Which city can lay claim to the title of having the greatest per capita interest in New Zealand’s birds?
Among our largest cities, Wellington was the clear leader, with about 85 website visits per 1000 residents, followed by Palmerston North (66) and Nelson (65.5). The high number of visits from Wellington could be due to the abundance of tūī and kākā around the city, both of which were among the top five species viewed on the website. The presence of kākā in Wellington city is entirely due to overflow from the Zealandia sanctuary, where they were reintroduced. Wellington’s healthy tūī population is due to a combination of Zealandia plus effective pest control in the city’s forest reserves.
But there was one town with even higher visitation rates than Wellington. Queenstown had an astonishing 116 views per 1000 residents – more than twice the rate for most other centres in New Zealand. It is likely that this high rate was due to international tourists seeking information on New Zealand birds. But why was Queenstown so far ahead of Rotorua (36 views per 1000)? Is this a reflection of differences in demographics, interests and computer (or smartphone use) between visitors to New Zealand’s two main tourist towns?