Where to find the Werewere Kōkako, Blue Pinkgill mushroom, in New Zealand South Island

Where to find the Werewere Kōkako, Blue Pinkgill mushroom, in New Zealand South Island

(that blue mushroom on the $50 bill)

We had used iNaturalist to find some blue pinkgills (its maori name is Werewere Kōkako and the blue is the same color as the wattle of a Kōkako bird) during a south island roadtrip and had achieved overwhelming success.

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The map shows the observations of the blue mushroom recorded on iNaturalist. The recorded observations of the blue pinkgill are mainly concentrated at the west coast and Stewart Island.


It has been said that they are best spotted from April to June when there is more rain.

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Above diagram shows the number of iNaturalist observations of the blue mushroom across the year. By a large margin, April has the most sightings of the blue mushroom.

Here are some reccommended trails to do in New Zealand South Island to find the blue mushroom (according to iNaturalist)

Coal Creek Falls Track

Location: 40 Ballance Street, Cobden, Runanga 7803, New Zealand

Trail: 1h 20 minute return, to a small waterfall. A flat and clear path with very gentle ups and downs

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I think I saw more than 20 different types of fungi within the first 30 minutes, and the boletes and Fly Agarics are huge. In my opinion, Coal Creek Falls trail should be renamed to Mushroom Trail as the fungi is arguably the highlight. I would highly reccommend this trail to mushroom enthusiasts.

We saw a pair of blue mushrooms just 15minutes into the trail.

Cockayne Nature Walk

Location: 4992 State Highway 73, Otira 7875, New Zealand. Google maps listed this as "Cockayne Nature Walk"

Trail:  About 40minutes loop with a bit of elevation. You can refer to Open street maps for the loop track but it is not needed. The turn off from the Otira highway to the carpark has no sign post and is a small hole through some tall shrubs. At the end of a short gravel road from the highway, there is a small car park. From here, one can do the Caroll hut and Hunt creek hut trail (3-5 hours) but if you just want to find blue mushrooms quickly, take the right path from the car park. the left trail will take you to Caroll Hut or Hunt Creek Hut But the right trail is a short loop where you can find the mushrooms.

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The pink  markers indicate where the blue pinkgills have been sighted and recorded by fervent iNatters (people who use iNaturalists).
In this short trail, we managed to spot 5-6 blue pinkgills along the track. I would highly reccomend this trail to find the blue mushrooms due to the abundance and also the environment is pretty "green and brown" so the blue of the mushrooms stands out really well, making it easy to spot.

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Circled in blue is the loop trail you should take from the car park.

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^ One of the blue pinkgills we met along the track. it is rather easy to spot bluepink gills as it is a bright blue.

Fox Glacier Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson loop track is also a hotspot for blue pinkgill mushroom sightings and is worth a stop if you are visiting Fox Glacier.

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^ Observations of the blue mushroom recorded marked in pink.

Ulva Island

Trail: there's about 2-3 hours worth of trails at Ulva Island. Getting there requires an one-hour ferry to Stewart Island (110NZD one way) , then another 10min water taxi ride to Ulva Island (30NZD return).

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Ulva Island trails are rather pleasant. It is well-sheltered by tall trees and the concentration and variety of birds is very high (due to its predator-free status). I don't think fungi was very abundant compared to Cockayne nature trail and Rainbow Reach

Other hotspots

There are many more hotspots for the blue pinkgill that you can find on iNaturalist such as the Okarito walking tracks. You can check iNaturalist for the observations of the blue mushroom in New Zealand: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=70225