New Zealand robins resemble British robins, but the two groups are not closely related. The New Zealand species belong to the Australian–New Guinean family Petroicidae.
Robins have large heads, short necks, round bodies and an upright stance. They have short bristles around the bill. All are insectivorous. The oldest known bird lived 16 years, but their life expectancy is three years.
North Island robins or toutouwai (Petroica longipes) are the largest of this group, 18 centimetres long and weighing 23 grams. They are darkish grey, with uneven white-grey underparts up to the chest, and a white dot above the bill. They feed mainly among leaf litter, collecting larvae, insects, worms and spiders, some of which they hide nearby. The male and female of a pair steal food from each other’s hiding places.
Feeding on the ground makes them vulnerable to predators, and their nests are easily accessible – so the species has disappeared from many areas. They are still found in forests of the western and central North Island, and on Little Barrier and Kapiti islands – and have been also reintroduced to some sanctuaries where predators are controlled.