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#6 Nature Ninja

10 Points

Grasshopper: use your ninja nature senses to find your way around your backyard or local park. Take some pics of your mission for your Wild Eyes scorecard!

Read the instructions


See also

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Kiwi Conservation Club, where your senses can discover heaps of amazing Kiwi creatures!


What to do

Your mission is:

Use your five senses (touch! taste! hearing! smell! sight!) to find and photograph the wild life outside your door. Check out the tool list (above) and be a nature ninja!


First: be like Master Po in Kung Fu and get in tune with your senses!



Ninja have to use all their senses. Go out into your backyard or closest nature space and tune in – letting your eyes, ears, nose, and hands take in everything they can. Then, once you’ve become one with nature, take a photo of THREE of the following:

- something in nature you can hear

- something in nature that smells   

- something in nature that feels soft

- something in nature you’ve never seen before

- something that is hiding or hidden

- something in nature that is tiny 

- something in nature that is huge (like Olly and this giant rata tree!)


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Trust your senses to guide you to the most interesting, most touchy-feely-smelly-stinky-loud image that demonstrates the sense – then snap your pics!

This is a picture of a stinkhorn fungus, which looks cool but smells like a rotten fish! Stink one! It uses the smell to attract flies to its spores (which are kind of like fungi seeds).



Crouch down, zoom in, lean over or stand on your tip-toes to get different angles and views. Take a selfie and put yourself in the photo!

Be creative in expressing your ninja subject:

Lou and Ella have been tasting sweet-as-honey harakeke (flax) flower nectar and used the pollen as face-paint/make-up! 


5. PRO TIPS #2

Sometimes a photo’s background can be distracting, so check what’s going on behind your subject and frame it so it stands out - like against a clear sky or solid colours, or with the background out of focus.

Bonus challenge: capture a sense in a picture that you can't see: can you HEAR this tīeke?  

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6. PRO TIPS #3

See if you can capture movement (yes it’s possible Grasshopper) by fiddling with the shutter speed and exposure.

If you have a digital camera or smartphone, it doesn’t cost anything extra for you to take heaps of photos and learn what works best by experimenting.

Check out this kākā parrot set for take off!   

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Another option is to draw the objects of your nature ninja mission (then photograph the drawings for Wild Eyes!). Let's see those ninja sketching skills unleashed! This is a picture of an albino (white/mā) kiwi in a snowstorm.


Grasshopper: take only photos, leave only footprints ... it's the Wild Eyes way!

What's happening?



– Stoatally tasty pūkana!

Animals, including humans, have all sorts of amazing senses, some of which make superhero senses like x-ray vision and super-hearing seem normal in comparison! Animals’ senses enable them to tune into changes in their surroundings to help them avoid predators, find food and mates, and to avoid hostile environments.

Note: the stoat in the photo can't see, hear, smell, touch or taste ... basically it's stuffed!


We humans get by pretty well with our standard five senses but some very clever creatures have developed others.

For example, dolphins and bats navigate using sonar technology installed directly into their head (also called echolocation), which involves sending out a cry and interpreting the echo (aka the sound 'waves' that bounce off stuff) to identify food or predators!

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– Aotearoa's very own long-tailed bat.


This guy is a living bat man! Daniel was born blind and uses echo-location to get around. He can even ride his bike using this sixth sense. We don't recommend blindfolding yourself and bike riding on your street Grasshopper ... but maybe do try it around some cushions (with a friend as your catcher) to see how hard it is and how super-powered Daniel is!



– Ruru/morepork owl popping a sweet pūkana!

Animal senses have adapted over thousands of years to give them the best shot at survival. Animals like cats hunt their food (when we’re not obediently serving it to them from cans). Their eyes are positioned on their heads so both eyes see the same area, but from slightly different angles.

This is called binocular vision and it lets them work out the distance between them and their prey – so they can pounce on it very accurately! Same goes for owls, wolves, and lots of other predators.


Have a think about the senses of your neighbourhood animals. You might see a harakeke (flax) flower, smell it, and even taste it, but a bee might get a different buzz and sense the flower’s electromagnetic field!

Like hammerhead sharks they have special sensors that pick up electric currents given off by other living things, which helps them identify food and predators (and the plant's pollen gets to hitch a ride to the next flower).

Native Bee

– Bees get a buzz off flowers                                                          (image (c)southernalpsphotography.com)



We’ve got some pretty magical manu (birds) right here in New Zealand! A kārearea (NZ falcon) has extraordinary eyesight: 8x more powerful than a human’s! Think about how far you can see and then multiply 8x ... you might be able to see your Nana's house. 

Pair that with the fact that it can dive bomb at 230 km/h (if it decides you look like lunch), and you have the ultimate hunters! 


– Sizing up the super sight



– Knee-d a hearing aid? (C)Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai

Some weta have their ears by their … knees (if you wanna say kia ora to this guy, speak just below his right knee.)

Some birds like the godwit or shining cuckoo (pipiwharauroa) have ninja navigation skills. The godwit has the longest migration of any animal, flying all the way from NZ to Siberia on the other side of the planet ... that’s over 13,000km (i.e. way longer than walking home from school!). 


Mr Twit's beard wan't good for much except catching spilt sardines, stilton cheese, and corn flakes. But a seal's whiskers are seriously useful. Their wicked whiskers can detect fish swimming up to 200 metres away.

Can your nose or whiskers detect when your Mum or Dad has brought fish'n'chips home?


– Like my stylish moustache?


Did you know that a kiwi has whiskers like a cat and is the only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak? It doesn’t have very good eyesight, but it is lord of the sniffers and dirt detectors.  

The whiskers and long beak can pick up vibrations, which is awesome for hunting out food like grubs and worms in the ground and in piles of leaves.

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– I can detect the slipperiest farts


According to Māori legend, my blue wattles (the bags under my chin ... yeah I know they're grey here!) were water bottles for Maui when he was taming the sun. H2O go! Check out these links to see other mind-blowing examples of how magic animals can be:

1. A whole heap of amazing animal senses

2. 20 things you didn’t know about animal senses.

3. 7 superpowered animal senses

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