Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest’s New Zealand birding tour thoroughly explores these scenically spectacular and friendly Antipodean islands. Our New Zealand tour offers the most thorough coverage of this island nation available and has the potential to turn up just about every endemic bird species occurring in the main islands, including all its endemic families.
Thursday 8th November —
Sunday 25th November 2018
Leaders: Josh Bergmark and a local bird guide
Group Size Limit: 10
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations for all but one night
New Zealand – the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ is the most remote major landmass of the globe. Isolated from the rest of the world for tens of millions of years, New Zealand is now a veritable treasure trove of natural wonders, a living natural history museum that is a reminder of a time now long past - a land of ancient conifers, tree ferns and prehistoric flightless birds, reptiles and insects. A country of contrasting extremes, of high alpine peaks and arid valleys, volcanoes and glaciers, dramatic fiords and towering southern beech forests, surf-swept headlands and bubbling mud pools, New Zealand is also one of the most scenically exciting places on earth.
For the birdwatcher the principal attraction of New Zealand is its exciting mixture of endemic birds (over 50 endemic species occur on the main islands) and the finest collection of pelagic seabirds in the world. Amongst the endemic birds, it is the four endemic families, comprising the kiwis, the New Zealand wrens, the Stitchbird (recent research has demonstrated that Stitchbird belongs in its own family) and the New Zealand wattlebirds, that are the most sought-after. The remarkable flightless kiwis are nocturnal, using their strong sense of smell (with nostrils near to the tip of the long bill) to locate their prey. Only those willing to creep quietly about at night can hope to see most of the species, and then only if you know the right places. We shall be trying hard to ensure that participants have the opportunity to see up to five species of these bizarre creatures as they snort and sneeze their way through the New Zealand night!
Amongst the many other exciting birds we shall be looking for are the world’s rarest penguins, the Yellow-eyed Penguin and the Fiordland Crested Penguin, the highly localized Northern Royal Albatross, the world’s rarest cormorant, the New Zealand King Shag, the rare and elusive Blue Duck, the strange Wrybill, the endangered Black Stilt (one of the world’s rarest waders), that curious parrot the Kea, and the strange Kokako, a wattlebird with the power of flight so diminished that it is virtually reduced to gliding between trees.
Our itinerary is specifically designed to be the most comprehensive bird tour of New Zealand available, delivering more of the specialities than any other.
We will begin our journey through New Zealand at Auckland in North Island, where we will enjoy a visit to a spectacular colony of Australasian Gannets before visiting the long northern ‘panhandle’ of North Island, where we will be looking for North Island Brown Kiwi, Brown Teal and Fairy Tern.
Next we will explore Tiritiri Matangi Island in search of its fine assemblage of endemic birds, including the rare Little Spotted Kiwi, the strange Takahe, the rare North Island Saddleback, the unique Stitchbird and the rare and wonderful Kokako. From here we will travel out by boat into the Hauraki Gulf to look for seabirds, including Black and Cook’s Petrels, and the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel.
To the south of Auckland, coastal and wetland habitats should produce Australasian Bittern, the strange Wrybill and the lovely New Zealand Dotterel, while the volcanically active central highlands of North Island, the heart of traditional Maori country, is a place where Blue Ducks haunt the rushing rivers.
After crossing the Cook Strait to northernmost South Island, we shall explore Queen Charlotte Sound with its colony of New Zealand King Shags and enjoy yet more pelagic seabird riches off Kaikoura, including a series of albatrosses, Hutton’s Shearwater and Westland Petrel.
Before crossing the spectacular Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass we will pause to look for the uncommon Malherbe’s (or Orange-fronted) Parakeet, now elevated to full species status. Further west, amidst some more awesome scenery along the Tasman Sea coast, we will be searching for the elusive Greater Spotted Kiwi and the restricted-range Okarito Brown Kiwi.
From here we will head inland, into the dry Mackenzie Country behind the Southern Alps, where we will explore the valleys, river deltas and lakes near Mount Cook (3764m), the highest peak in New Zealand, which are home to New Zealand Falcons and the critically endangered Black Stilt.
Next we travel to the huge and spectacular Fiordland National Park in the southwestern corner of the island, home of Fiordland Crested Penguins, Keas, Rock Wrens and Brown Creepers.
After reaching the southernmost extremity of South Island at Invercargill, we will cross to Stewart Island in search of Southern Brown Kiwi, South Island Saddleback and Yellowhead. Stewart Island is one of the best places in New Zealand for seabirds, and so we shall have our last glorious New Zealand pelagic here.
Finally, at the Otago Peninsula, near Dunedin, we will visit the famous Northern Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head and also an area where Yellow-eyed Penguins breed.
Birdquest has operated tours to New Zealand since 1990.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good standard almost throughout. On Tiritiri Matangi we will spend one night in simple but clean bunk-house accommodation owned by the reserve, with a number of people in each room. Road transport will be by minibus and roads are good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy almost throughout, but there are a few moderate grade walks. Note that those group members wanting to look for Malherbe’s Parakeet will have to ford at least two small, knee-deep rivers.
Climate: Rather variable. In North Island conditions will be warm or hot, with dry, sunny periods interspersed with overcast spells and rain. In South Island and on Stewart Island it will range from distinctly cool to warm with a mixture of dry and sunny or overcast and wet weather.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.
Can be taken together with: NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI INCLUDING VANUATU & SAMOA
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £5190, €6230, $7060 Auckland/Dunedin.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, leader services. Tipping is not customary in New Zealand.
Single Room Supplement: £720, €864, $979 (excluding the night on Tiritiri Matangi).
Deposit: £650, €900, $1000.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate
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