Birding Tour New Zealand: 18-day Birding Adventure 2019

Duration: 18 days

Welcome to this ‘Birding Tour New Zealand’ excursion. New Zealand is one of the most remote places on earth, and during 8o million years of isolation a fascinating and unique fauna evolved. In the absence of mammals, except for bats and marine species, birds became the dominant animals, and they evolved to fill most available niches. Many became flightless, and some grew to be giants. including a huge eagle and the giant browsing moas. Sadly, with the occupation of New Zealand by Polynesians about 800 years ago and Europeans in the 19th century, many of the endemic species became extinct, including the eagle and the moas. Of those species that survived some are still common, others are rare but still found on the larger islands, and many are only found in carefully managed populations on small predator-free islands. The stories of how New Zealanders have protected their birds are extraordinary, and these stories play an important role in our tour of New Zealand.

This Birding Tour New Zealand itinerary is designed to find as many of the endemic species as possible, as well as species introduced by Europeans and the many species that have introduced themselves from Australia.

Located in the Southern Ocean, New Zealand is rich in oceanic species of birds and mammals, and our itinerary includes pelagic tours at key locations.

The Birding Tour New Zealand excursion starts in Auckland, with a few days in Northland, looking for North Island Brown Kiwi, the first of the five kiwi species we hope to find, the rare New Zealand Plover, Fairy Tern, and many more.

Our first pelagic trip is on the Hauraki Gulf, where New Zealand Storm Petrel, a recently rediscovered species, is just one of our many target species.

Our journey then takes us to Tiritiri Matangi Island, the first of three predator-free islands we will visit, to see rare endemics, including saddlebacks and Stitchbird, then south to the wader haven at Miranda.

Among the migratory waders we should find the only bird in the world with a sideways curving beak, the Wrybill. In the temperate rainforests of the central North Island we hope to find North Island Kokako, New Zealand Kaka, and other forest endemics. In the fast-flowing rivers we look for the very rare Whio – the Blue Duck.

After crossing Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton, our tour continues on the South Island.
During a boat trip on the Marlborough Sounds we visit a colony of Rough-faced (King) Shag, which is only found in this isolation location and on Motuara Island, another predator-free reserve.

At picturesque Kaikoura a unique phenomenon provides the ideal location for our next pelagic cruise. This is the only place in New Zealand where there is no continental shelf, and the sea plummets 1000 meters just offshore. Albatross, shearwaters, and petrels can be seen just minutes from the shore, and marine mammals are abundant.

We cross over the Southern Alps, the junction between two great tectonic plates, to the West Coast to look for two more kiwi species, the elusive Great Spotted Kiwi and the rarest species, the Okarito Kiwi.

Next on Birding Tour New Zealand we travel down the rugged and wet West Coast and cross back across the divide at Haast Pass.
We visit the dramatic fjord called Milford Sound, looking for Fiordland Penguin and, amongst the rocks en route, the tiny alpine New Zealand Rock Wren and the world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea.

Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third-largest island, is our destination for our third pelagic adventure.

The tour finishes in Dunedin with a visit to the only mainland colony in the world of Northern Royal Albatross and a colony of the endemic Hoiho – the Yellow-eyed Penguin.

The food in New Zealand is legendary, especially the wonderful fresh seafood, the accommodations are varied and interesting, the scenery is spectacular, and the locals are the friendliest people on the planet.

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