Story: Small forest birds

Drift away from Gondwana

The land mass that was to become New Zealand split away from the supercontinent Gondwana about 85 million years ago. The ancestors of several of New Zealand’s birds – including the New Zealand wren family – may have been on board the drifting land.

From around 55 million years ago, New Zealand has been separated from the nearest large land mass, Australia, by a gap of about 2,000 kilometres. The birds that have arrived in New Zealand since then have crossed this large body of water – most likely during westerly gales.

Using this item

GNS Science
Animation by Rupert Sutherland

Permission of GNS Science must be obtained before any use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Christina Troup, 'Small forest birds - New Zealand’s small forest birds', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/12456/drift-away-from-gondwana (accessed 17 June 2019)

Story by Christina Troup, published 24 Sep 2007, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015