Hoiho wins Bird of the Year competition

New Zealand has voted, and the hoiho or yellow-eyed penguin has claimed first place in this year's Bird of the Year competition. 

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Hoiho, which are unique to New Zealand, are at their lowest level in 30 years. Source: 1 NEWS

For most of the competition's voting period the penguin was neck and neck with the kākāpō, only just edging ahead in the final few days, receiving 12,022 votes.

Bird of the Year is run by Forest & Bird to raise awareness of New Zealand’s native birds and the threats they face.

It is the first seabird to take out the top spot in 14 years of the competition and is the world's rarest penguin with only 225 pairs remaining on mainland New Zealand. 

"It was so close between these two amazing endangered birds, it was impossible to predict a winner for most of the competition," said Forest & Bird spokesperson Megan Hubscher.

"Our birds are so incredible and unique - all New Zealand birds are winners!"

Top five birds:

1. Hoiho, yellow-eyed penguin
2. Kākāpō
3. Kakaruia, black robin
4. Tūturiwhatu, banded dotterel
5. Pīwakawaka, fantail