Nature Watch in New Zealand with iNaturalist NZ

Dear valued NatureWatch NZ user,

As you may be aware our NatureWatch NZ website unexpectedly shut down on the afternoon of Monday, 21 May 2018.

Please note that all of your observations are safe as all data are stored with our international partner, iNaturalist.

Trustees of the New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust, which operates NatureWatch NZ, have been unable to resolve a long-standing domain name issue. was owned and managed on the Trust’s behalf by a third party. When NatureWatch NZ was launched, it was done so on the basis that the domain would be transferred to the Trust. That did not occur and, despite numerous requests, the domain has remained with the third party. The recent shutdown by the third party demonstrates the reasons why it is essential that the Trust has full access and control over its domain. We have endeavoured to determine why the domain registration was cancelled on Monday. The third party is overseas and has not yet responded to our enquiries. The Trustees wish to engage all the NatureWatch NZ community in a discussion about future decisions.

After carefully weighing up all options (including seeking to have the domain transferred through the Courts) the majority of Trustees have resolved that the least disruptive option is to relocate NatureWatch NZ to a new domain. As part of our efforts over the last few days to restore NatureWatch NZ we have been in close contact with our iNaturalist partners in the USA. They have indicated that they were about to initiate a process of consultation with partners about closer alignment with the global iNaturalist brand across the growing global iNaturalist Network, of which NatureWatch NZ is the New Zealand member. Although this global decision has not yet been made the Trustees propose that we look forward and switch our domain and the NatureWatch NZ community to iNaturalist.NZ. This aligns the Trust with the proposed future direction of our international partners, ensures brand consistency with the mobile iNaturalist apps, and will minimise any potential future disruptions.

The Trustees will be meeting on 20 June to vote on the brand/domain issue. We seek your feedback on the Trustees’ proposal to align with the international iNaturalist brand. Whilst our name will change, we will retain all our existing NZ specific functionality, e.g., community of users, places, maps, projects, etc. Feedback can be made in a comment below, or on the Trust Facebook page, or sent to Please ensure that any responses are sent by 5 pm on Friday 15 June.

While the Trustees are making every effort to minimise disruption, our move will affect existing external links, apps and other services that are operating from the current NatureWatch NZ platform (see FAQs below for solutions). From today (24 May) we are operational as iNaturalist.NZ and that will be the case at least until the future brand is confirmed at the next Trust meeting.

We aim to quickly resolve any technical issues with this changeover. If you have any technical inquiries please email for assistance. We will keep users regularly updated here at iNaturalist.NZ and on our Facebook page.

The Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and enthusiasm over our first 5 and a half years as NatureWatch NZ. Together we have built an extraordinary resource of over half a million records made by more than 9,000 observers. You can all be proud that together we have made NZ a world leader in citizen bio-recording. We appreciate your patience while we get through this difficult period and resume ‘normal transmission’ and an upward trajectory.

Kindest regards,

New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who runs NatureWatch NZ?

NatureWatch NZ is managed by the New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust (NZBRN Trust). The NZBRN Trust is a registered Charitable Trust in NZ.

What is iNaturalist and the iNaturalist Network?

iNaturalist is based at the California Academy of Sciences and maintain the code base that operates NatureWatch NZ and our dedicated server that securely stores your data. NatureWatch NZ is one of several international partners in what is referred to as the iNaturalist Network. iNaturalist also operate the phone app service used by many NatureWatch NZ users.

Do you currently subscribe to NatureWatch NZ or are you contributing via iNaturalist?

Some users in New Zealand are not yet aligned with the NatureWatch NZ community but operate via iNaturalist when using their phone app. We do not have access to their email addresses and so have not been able to contact them directly about these changes. If you have friends that use NatureWatch NZ or the iNaturalist app in NZ please make sure they are aware of this change.

What is the NatureWatch NZ Facebook page?

What is a domain?

A domain is a text address that points your web browser to the appropriate IP (Internet Protocol) Address which is a series of numbers that tells your browser where to obtain the relevant content for that site.

What will happen to existing NatureWatch NZ links?

Unfortunately any URL linkages and widgets will no longer work in their previous form as they rely solely on At this stage we know that the iNaturalist phone app is unaffected by these changes but we are yet to determine the impact on third party phone apps that rely on the API functionality. Some may have issues but it will depend on the how those apps were developed so issues are likely to arise on a case by case basis. URLs (we addresses) can be updated by pointing them to the new domain name. For example:



Posted by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan, May 23, 2018 11:23 PM



Great work, well done, and thanks to all doing it.

Posted by jennyjack about 1 month ago (Flag)

Fantastic job team! I know how much you have all worked on this solution, which you have managed in a very short time-frame. Updating widgets should of course wait until the https implementation is rolled out. Otherwise people will have to do this twice.

Posted by murray_dawson about 1 month ago (Flag)

I think what you propose is a logical solution and I fully support it.

Posted by john_barkla about 1 month ago (Flag)

Good work folks :)
Yes I think the inaturalistnz url makes good sense

Posted by grahame about 1 month ago (Flag)

Thanks everyone. It's been a rocky few days but this may well work out for the best long-term. Until then, we'll be working hard to minimise the disruptions this causes.

@murray_dawson we'll get HTTPS up and running on iNaturalist.NZ very soon.

Posted by jon_sullivan about 1 month ago (Flag)

Sounds good, hope everything gets resolved. Thanks for all your hard work.

Posted by tom_saunders about 1 month ago (Flag)

Big shout out to everyone behind the scenes for resolving this difficult situation so quickly. Much appreciated. The solution and new domain name makes perfect sense.

Posted by jacqui-nz about 1 month ago (Flag)

I think a bit of short-term brand-confusion if you switch to iNaturalistNZ branding is a small deal. The main thing I want preserved is the distinct Naturewatch community. Thank you for all your efforts in getting this sorted. Also, this is as good a time as any to say how much I appreciate that you all have set this up in the first place. It has been a real joy for me to learn from this platform and all the people on it over the last few years. Cheers.

Joe Potter Butler

Posted by joepb about 1 month ago (Flag)

Sound like a lot of work but its awesome you guys are on to it!

Posted by marleyii about 1 month ago (Flag)

So glad to find this after wondering for a while what has happened.

Domain name search of shows the status as pending release as is has expired and the current year has not been paid for. If not paid the domain will be released back into the general pool. If this happens (and you would have to keep a close eye on it) then the domain should be bought, regardless of what domain name is to be used in future. The advantage of this is that redirects can be done from NW to the new site then all of the links will work again.

Even though I understand the rationale for I would personally prefer a Nature Watch in the domain - maybe as NW is us and NW is now a natural part of conversation within my whanau. Last week I was over in Queensland and conversations were,
"What have you been naturewatching lately?" "I will take you to the botanical gardens so you can nature watch" etc.
"What have you been iNaturalisting lately?" "I will take you to the botanical gardens so you can iNaturalist" doesn't sound right! *LOL*
My whanau can easily remember NW as both words are familiar, but naturalist is not a familiar word so would take a few times before they can remember it. And Nature Watching sounds far better than iNaturalisting

The main thing I want preserved is the distinct Naturewatch community. - Totally agree with this sentiment :)

Posted by tangatawhenua about 1 month ago (Flag)

Good job getting it back up and running so soon guys. Also very pleased to see that we will get HTTPS soon.

Posted by bevan about 1 month ago (Flag)

@tangatawhenua We'll be doing our best to obtain when it becomes available but have been informed by the Domain Names Commission that this will be competitive bidding and there is nothing they can do to give us precedence in that process.

The loss of a unique brand name, and especially one that can be used as a verb, is something that we had long conversations about earlier this week. We are losing something here, but gaining elsewhere. In the end, we can still nature watch with iNaturalist NZ (or iNat NZ as I expect it will be shortened to).

In the end, as you say, it's all about the amazing community we have here. What name we have on the front gate is far less important than the efforts we all make to support and grow our community and the fun and friendships and fascinating conversations and amazing discoveries that we're making together.

(I'm not sure if @meurkc has been in touch with you yet but we're also keen to get suggestions for a suitable Maori name for the site, and eventually ensure that we have a Maori language version.)

Posted by jon_sullivan about 1 month ago (Flag)

Hmmm. i-Nat - only 2 syllables to say - I like it as a noun. Not so good as a verb ..."I i-Nat, do you?". But "I Nat watch" works for me...meaning I watch (etc) iNaturalist

Posted by jennyjack about 1 month ago (Flag)

I started digging into the availability of the old domain before reading all the comments. Fingers crossed you can get it as we really want URL redirects. Don't get into a bidding war though (looks like there are currently no bids)!
Personally I'm a bit sick of iEverything, but I can see the logic in consistency with iNaturalist. However, are we sure the iNaturalist brand is here to stay globally? If they were open to re-branding to something without the i that would make me happy :)

Posted by neil_fitzgerald 29 days ago (Flag)

Sounds painful, Jon. Pleased to see you've found such a tidy solution. Another case where the problem is human, not technology...

Posted by kiwilightweight 29 days ago (Flag)

@tangatawhenua @neil_fitzgerald I hear what you say about the unique NatureWatch NZ brand particularly since so much of our flora & fauna is unique. Roll on NWAotearoaNZ.

Posted by jacqui-nz 29 days ago (Flag)

@neil_fitzgerald Yes, we're stuck with the "i" as the iNaturalist brand isn't going anywhere. They started in 2008 and have grown hugely since we forked off their code to build NatureWatch NZ back in 2012. They're at over 11 million observations now made by over 335,000 users (including our half a million observations and almost 10,000 users from NZ). Their brand is locked in. You can think of it as "I, Naturalist" (like "I, Robot") as well as Apple's "internet" meaning. (I completely understand you being sick of iEverything though. We've even got a toastie maker in our kitchen called an iSnack.)

While we were launching NatureWatch NZ, iNat was building the customisation to allow for regional instances, the first being the NaturaLista Mexico site. That customisation allowed us to integrate our NZ-built features (like bulk spreadsheet uploading) and our community into their servers and use all their updated features (we did that in 2014 but kept our NatureWatch NZ name). They've since been expanding the iNaturalist Network to other countries (e.g., iNaturalist Canada and NaturaLista Colombia) and several more countries are in the pipeline now. Other languages aside, I do see their point that it makes sense for us all to be using versions of the same brand going forward.

Posted by jon_sullivan 29 days ago (Flag)

@jenny-jack Do you nat watch? I nat watch. How do I nat watch? I nat watch with iNat NZ. :-)

Yes, that might work. I suppose it's no goofier than saying I'm going to google something.

Posted by jon_sullivan 29 days ago (Flag)

Quite:) If we all think of it as nature watch, that does not need to change. For me at least, saying natwatch is easier than nature watch, and would mean the same to me. in writing, NW was quick and easy - could stay the same? The origins of expressions and names are often long forgotten. e.g. ASB Bank etc...people must have forgotten what the B stood for.
The main thing for me is to keep the NWNZ site intact and distinct, as I found it (only 2 weeks ago), and it seems you are confident this will continue. But diversity is wonderful, global umbrellas are uninviting, [EDIT- as identities i mean- I appreciate the good fortune to be part of the iNaturalist network] and if there is the possibility of a different address I would welcome and support anything everyone else likes:) . I just can't think of one myself. Is there a fairly short, distinctly NZ word meaning all life? Suggestive perhaps of knowledge or awareness?

Posted by jennyjack 28 days ago (Flag)

We can keep the red admiral logo though right?

Posted by joepb 28 days ago (Flag)

The tiny green kiwi on the i instead of a leaf/bird is a nice touch :-)

Posted by jacqui-nz 28 days ago (Flag)

Thanks so much for all that you do behind the front page to keep a favourite obsession working for us contributors. And, extra bonus, overnight the iPhone app is working to upload observations. Magic.

Posted by gailtv 23 days ago (Flag)

Heartful thanks, team, for acting on this so well, on top of everything else you handle. NatureWatchNZ has more character than iNaturalist (reflects our high endemism), and it's seeping into our culture (witness Colin's appearance on RNZ). A name/brand change will need promotion.

Posted by fredovermars 16 days ago (Flag)

I see that now all the links with naturewatch in them correctly redirect - including links within comments - awesome!

Posted by murray_dawson 16 days ago (Flag)

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