City Nature Challenge 2021: Ōtautahi/Christchurch's Journal

May 08, 2021

Last day for City Nature Challenge IDs!

Kia ora everyone,

By the end of today, Sunday, the totals will be locked in for this year's City Nature Challenge. Ōtautahi/Christchurch is doing well. We're ahead in NZ and Australia and currently 24th in the world for observations and 21st in the world for species. That's in comparison to some of the world's largest cities. You can watch all the global action here, with more than 1.2 million species and counting(!).

It's not over yet in Ōtautahi. There are still plenty of observations to identify, and you've got until the end of the day to upload any last observations you made during the challenge weekend.

You can see all of the wild observations still requiring identifications here:

Importantly, that page by default doesn't show the planted and captive things, and we've got a lot of great observations of the species we plant and grow in the city. You can identify those here:

If you're in the centre of Christchurch today, we've got a room on the ground floor of Tūranga, the central library, where we're identifying and uploading. Stop on by and say kia ora and join in the fun.

Also, we'll have a celebration of all the amazing City Nature Challenge observations and observers from Ōtautahi/Christchurch at 6 pm on Tuesday at Tūranga. Everyone is welcome!

Posted on May 08, 2021 23:19 by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2021

Post-Challenge Post

I know I promised a newsier update today, but… I need to sleep! Instead, please enjoy this friendly chonk/kererū, observed by @gill-b. Isn’t he handsome?

Also handsome in a way you never thought possible: the Sexy Pavement Lichen! I was waiting for one of these to turn up in this year’s results: thanks, @meurkc!

More observations and identifications are continuing to roll in from around Aotearoa. Ōtautahi and Pōneke/Wellington City remain close tonight, with about 7000 observations of about 1300 species for each city. Overall, more than 17,500 observations have been uploaded from across Aotearoa’s participating cities, with 2627 species spotted by 546 observers, and identified by 365 identifiers. The global total has topped 1,000,000 observations!

The upload and identification period runs through May 9, and is an important part of the overall event. Getting organisms identified makes all of the wonderful data we’ve collected even more useful. If there is a group of organisms you’re confident identifying, please jump online and help out (you can of course help with ID’s from anywhere in New Zealand, or indeed the world)! If you’re not comfortable making species identifications, you can help the rest of the iNaturalist community by putting in a very general ID (e.g. putting in the ID for “plants” or “spiders”). With so many observations being uploaded all at once, many identifiers will use a filter to find the taxonomic groups they are most familiar with. You can also help by tagging observations as captive/cultivated where appropriate.

Finally, you can help by coming along to our Identification Party! On Sunday the 9th from 10:30 until 5, drop in to Tūranga if you would like to join in. This is an informal social event, and you’re welcome to come for as long or short as you’d like. We’ll be parked in Auaha Hīhī - Spark Place, at the east end of the ground floor. Bring a device and take advantage of the library’s free wifi!

Posted on May 04, 2021 10:28 by laura-nz laura-nz | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 03, 2021

Day Four Re-Cap

Woo-hoo, we pulled ahead of Wellington! : )

It's still pretty close, but what a great final day. As of 11:40PM we're on 6562 observations of 1396 species made by 140 observers, with 179 users helping with identifications.

Great effort everyone! We will pull together a news-ier update tomorrow, and provide some additional tips for the upload and ID phase.

While you're kicking back and relaxing tomorrow, you may want to check out the global City Nature Challenge board to see what's happening around the rest of the world. We here in New Zealand are the first to start and finish the event, and all the other participating cities will be rolling across the line over the next 24 hours. Will the global iNaturalist community hit 1,000,000 observations fo this year's Challenge? At the moment the grant total is over 784,000 observations and counting....

Posted on May 03, 2021 11:52 by laura-nz laura-nz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 02, 2021

Day Three Re-Cap

Another busy day for Ōtautahi iNaturalists today, and we’re still keeping close to Pōneke/Wellington City in both the observation and species tallies. As of about 11:00PM, we've tallied 4690 observations of 1116 species from 122 observers, with identifications being provided by 150 users.

The top four species span a range of taxonomic groups, and observations of each species come from a range of places. The number one species observed as of tonight is the cabbage tree with 39 observations. Second is Dolomedes minor (36 observations), followed by fantails (26 observations) and fly agaric (24 observations).

With one day left to go for observations, you may be wondering if there’s something obvious we’ve overlooked so far. @kiwifergus has built handy lists for some taxonomic groups that highlight which species have been observed at least once here in the past, but have not yet been observed during the 2021 City Nature Challenge. He’s posted links to these lists - which will update as we find more species - in his iNaturalist user journal.

Also handy to keep in mind as we head into the final day: remember we have an additional week to get observations uploaded and identified. As long as the observation was made/photograph was taken/recording recorded/sample collected before 11:59PM on Monday night, it can be included in our tally. So if you are wondering whether it’s better to spend your time tomorrow uploading your current observations or making more of them, the answer is: make more! : )

Posted on May 02, 2021 11:12 by laura-nz laura-nz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Wondering what's left to find in Christchurch?

Hi, everyone-

@kiwifergus has pulled together lists of spider and bird species that have been seen before in Christchurch, but haven't been recorded in this year's City Nature Challenge so far (thanks, Mark!!!). Is there something here that you can find to boost our species tally?

Posted on May 02, 2021 05:18 by laura-nz laura-nz | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 01, 2021

Day Two Re-Cap

Ōtautahi iNaturalists covered a lot of ground (and water) on Saturday! Having a quick look through the observations, it’s exciting to see a terrific diversity of observations from a variety of habitat types.

As of about 11:00PM, we've tallied 2851 observations of 837 species from 81 observers, with identifications being provided by 119 users - a solid start! @jennysaito continues to top the observation and species leaderboards for Christchurch, with @yukisaito and @yuyusaito well up in the rankings as well! The top species observed is now Dolomedes minor, thanks in large part to @wjiang’s efforts.

So many interesting observations today. A few of the highlights for me were the range of lichens and fungi (including another "Devil’s Fingers” (@tyler_mcbeth), which I still think are creepy); a teeny-tiny crab spider (@daisyzebra); a stylish planarian (@bythepark); and an also-stylish fluffy kererū butt (@fergus). Finally, two from @timcurran: a Māori octopus, and a hairy seaweed crab. Today I learned that hairy seaweed crabs exist, and I’m a happier person for it.

With today’s hard work we’ve nearly caught up to Wellington in both number of observations and species. Keep it up!

Posted on May 01, 2021 11:41 by laura-nz laura-nz | 2 comments | Leave a comment

April 30, 2021

Day One Re-cap

Kia ora Ōtautahi!

It’s the end of day 1 of the City Nature Challenge - thanks to everyone who got out and about in Christchurch today to document our local biodiversity! Christchurch posted the first observations of the global event just past midnight, and the final cities to join around the world are just getting started now.

As of about 11:00PM, we've tallied 950 observations of 388 species from 36 observers, with identifications being provided by 76 users - a solid start! @jennysaito is at the top of the observation and species leaderboards for Christchurch this evening, with 217 observations of 92 species. Impressive! The most-observed species so far is the mighty fantail. The creepiest species I learned existed today, courtesy of @fuligogirl, is "Devil’s Fingers."

This year we are one of 5 New Zealand cities participating in the City Nature Challenge. Overall, there are 2858 observations of 942 species from 134 observers across Aotearoa. You can see the New Zealand overview at: if you haven’t discovered it already. If you have already discovered the overview, you’ll probably notice that Pōneke/Wellington City is at the top of the Aotearoa leaderboard. Can we overtake them on Saturday….?

Posted on April 30, 2021 10:52 by laura-nz laura-nz | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 25, 2021

Here's what's planned for the City Nature Challenge in Ōtautahi/Christchurch city

For all four days of the 2021 City Nature Challenge, from Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May, Christchurch city/Ōtautahi will be outside nature watching. Tūranga, the central library, will be our hub throughout the City Nature Challenge. See

Folk have got a variety of trips and events planned to get out and document all the species living in Christchurch. Below are the trips we know about so far, from the more formal to the casual.

If there's something below happening in your area, feel free to message the user on iNaturalist NZ and get the details. We'll also update this page with more details as they come in.

Jenny Saito (@jennysaito) and Colin Meurk (@meurkc) are leading an eight day walk of the amazing Christchurch 360 Trail, starting on Sunday 25 April and finishing Sunday 2 May. During the City Nature Challenge, they'll be doing the Spencer Park to Pages Rd section on Friday, on Saturday they'll be walking from Pages Road around the estuary and oxidation ponds, through Ferrymead to Sumner & Taylors Mistake, and on Sunday they'll finish by walking from Taylors Mistake to Gondola via Godley Heads. The team is already in place for that walk, but you'll be able to follow their progress on iNaturalist NZ and leave comments and identifications.

Sarah Mankelow will be pond dipping at Te Oranga Waikura 10–11 am on Friday morning, 521 Ferry Road, next to the Kimihia Early Learning Centre (see

Paula Greer (@pagreer) will be leading a Canterbury Botanical Society walk of the Avon River on Saturday starting at Barbados Street cemetery at 9.30 am and walking through the Red Zone. See the Canterbury Botanical Society website for details. All are welcome.

On Saturday morning from 10–12, Annette Bolton (@annettebolton) & Simon Watts (@ simonwatts) will be exploring the sand dunes and estuary at South Shore. Meet at the Southshore Spit Reserve at 10 AM. All welcome. [More details are in the comment by @simonwatts below.]

Join Tim Curran (@timcurran) of Lincoln University and Spencer Virgin (@svirgin) of the University of Canterbury for a 1.5 hour rockpooling expedition at Taylor’s Mistake on Saturday 1 May. Meet at 1:15pm on the beach in front of the Taylor’s Mistake Surf Lifesaving Club and we’ll head off and explore the rockpools to the north and/or south of the beach. Please bring sun protection, warm clothing, suitable shoes (e.g. gumboots), drinks and snacks. Tim’s mobile is 0221206336.

Alice Shanks (@alice_shanks) is leading a Canterbury Botanical Society trip to Magnet Bay, Banks Peninsula, on Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. See the Canterbury Botanical Society website for details. There is a limit of ten people for this trip. [See the comment by @alice_shanks below with more details.]

Throughout the event, Rob Cruickshank (@robcruickshank) & Cor Vink (@corvink) will be setting up invertebrate traps at Tūranga, the central library, and looking at their contents with microscopes. Stop by to see what they're finding.

Jon Sullivan (@jon_sullivan), Laura Molles (@laura-nz), and others, will be leading short public nature walks out from Tūranga, the central library, throughout Sunday. We're hoping to line up people to lead nature walks from Tūranga on the Saturday also.

On Monday 3 May, Colin Meurk (@meurkc) and Paula Godfrey (@paulagodfrey) will be leading a walk through the grey/rubble-fields and cemeteries of the city. All welcome. More details will be available soon.

Nathan Odgers (@crellow) will be exploring the Styx River area on Friday.

Vicky Southworth will be leading an exploration of the Opawaho-Heathcote River.

Karen Banwell (@karen674) will be exploring the Lyttelton Harbour shore.

Alex Fergus (@fergus) will be exploring the Akaroa area over two days.

Pieter Pelser (@pelser), Ian Dickie (@iandickie), and Steve Pawson (@stevepawson) will be exploring the University of Canterbury campus.

Sarah Mankelow will be doing a rocky shore scramble in Corsair Bay.

Paula Godfrey (@paulagodfrey) will be exploring the summit and reserves on the shaded side of Mt Herbert , Banks Peninsula.

Jon Sullivan (@jon_sullivan) and James Ross (@rossj3) will be exploring Living Springs in Lyttelton Harbour on Saturday with Lincoln University students.

Jon Sullivan (@jon_sullivan) will be running from the Sign of the Kiwi to Cathedral Square and back on Monday, making observations along the way.

If you've got something planned that you want everyone to know about, please drop it in the comments below. Otherwise, go exploring with friends and family in your neighbourhood. How many species you can find? What's in flower and fruit at the moment? Can you find something you've never seen before? Upload anything you photograph or record onto iNaturalist NZ with the free iNaturalist app or our iNaturalist NZ website. Our enthusiastic community of nature experts will pitch in and tell you what you've found.

After the four day observing period, the iNaturalist NZ community has one week to upload and identify all of our observations. During this time there will be two upload and identification workshops at Tūranga on Thursday 6 May and Sunday 9 May (we’ll give you more precise details nearer the time). These will be opportunities for us to get together to make a concerted effort to get everything uploaded and identified, to have some fun learning from each other, and to talk to the public about what we’re doing and what we’ve found.

At 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm on the evening of Tuesday 11 May there will be a wrap up social event in the TSB Space on the 1st floor of Tūranga to celebrate all our hard work. By this time we will have the final global tally of observations, observers, and species from all of the 400+ cities in more 40 countries taking part.

Posted on April 25, 2021 10:30 by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 15 comments | Leave a comment