The Double-banded Plover is a small wader. The upper body is brown with white underparts and a cream stripe through the eye. When the birds first arrive on the estuary, the vestiges of two chest bands may be seen. The impressive orange/brown chest band is separated from a dark band on the lower neck. Young birds do not have the bands. Some birds may moult into their breeding plumage with two bands prior to returning to New Zealand.
The Double-banded Plover differs from the migratory waders from the Northern Hemisphere as it arrives in autumn and departs for the breeding grounds in New Zealand by late winter. They eat molluscs, insects and sometimes seeds and fruit.