An adult takahe weighs up to 3 kg and stands up to 50 cm tall, about the size of a chicken. As is typical of most of the flightless birds, it has short stout but strong (red) legs. The takahe's impressive red beak is quite solid. It has small wings that are only used for display. They can still fly, but very poorly and only for short distances, normally as a means of escape. In the Fiordland native habitat, curled, mid-ribbed and broad-leaved snow tussock grasses provide food and shelter for takahe.
Nesting pairs build a raised ground nest of snow tussock grasses in October after the snow has melted. 80% of the 1-3 eggs laid each year hatch after 30 days of incubation. Chicks are fed by both parents for 3 months. Only 1 chick will normally survive the first winter.
Takahe is now protected in the wilderness of Fiordland National Park, which is New Zealand's largest national park, and a World Heritage area. It is listed as endangered by IUCN.