The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Australia & The Pacific Islands

NEW ZEALAND – Kiwis, Keas, Seabirds and Scenery

Saturday 15th November – Thursday 4th December 2025

Leader: Dave Howes

20 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s New Zealand birding tours thoroughly explore these scenically spectacular and friendly Antipodean islands. Our New Zealand birding tour offers very thorough coverage of this island nation and has the potential to turn up every accessible endemic bird species occurring in the main islands, including all their six endemic bird families.

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 bird species, endemic bird families and the finest collection of pelagic seabirds in the world.

Over 50 endemic bird species occur here and no fewer than six endemic bird families! The endemic families, comprise the kiwis, the New Zealand parrots, the New Zealand wrens, the Stitchbird (recent research has demonstrated that Stitchbird belongs in its own family), the New Zealand wattlebirds and the New Zealand creepers.

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 four (conceivably 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 North Island 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 provide the most comprehensive bird tour of New Zealand available and concentrates on the endemics and other special birds.

We will begin our New Zealand birding tour 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.

We will travel out by boat into the Hauraki Gulf to look for a fine selection of seabirds, including Black, Pycroft’s and Cook’s Petrels, and the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm Petrel.

In addition, 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 North Island Kokako.

To the south of Auckland, the coastal habitats at Miranda 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. We will also look for New Zealand Grebe, more North Island Kokakos and Australasian Bittern among others.

After crossing the Cook Strait to the northernmost part of South Island, we shall explore Queen Charlotte Sound with its colony of New Zealand King Shags, Malherbe’s (or Orange-fronted) Parakeets and South Island Saddlebacks.

At Kaikoura, we will enjoy yet more pelagic seabird riches, including a series of albatrosses, Hutton’s Shearwater and Westland Petrel.

After crossing the spectacular Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass, where we should at least hear Great Spotted Kiwi, we will enjoy some awesome scenery along the Tasman Sea coast. Here we will be searching for the restricted-range Okarito Brown Kiwi and, further south, the rare Yellowhead.

Next, we travel to the huge and spectacular Fiordland National Park in the southwestern corner of the island, home of Fiordland Crested Penguins, cheeky 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. 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.

Along the southeastern coast of South Island, we will visit an area where the increasingly rare Yellow-eyed Penguin breeds and we will, as long as timings permit, visit the famous Northern Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head.

From the coast, 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.

We finish our New Zealand adventure at the pleasant city of Christchurch.

Dave Howes is one of the top New Zealand birders and bird tour guides and a great person to travel with.

Birdquest has operated New Zealand birding tours since 1990.

This tour can be taken together with SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good standard throughout. On Tiritiri Matangi Island we will spend one night in dormitories. Road transport will be by minibus (passenger van) and the roads are good.

Walking: The walking effort during our New Zealand birding tour is easy almost throughout, only occasionally moderate.

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 during our New Zealand birding tour are good.


  • Traverse the country from north to south, and seek out every possible endemic along the way.
  • Seeing all six of New Zealand's endemic bird families!
  • A good chance of seeing four species of kiwi.
  • Predator-free Tiritiri Matangi holds several species which were once close to extinction like Stitchbird and Kokako.
  • Watch the endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin and Fiordland Crested Penguin come ashore.
  • Alpine zones hold specially adapted Blue Ducks in fast-flowing streams.
  • The bizarre New Zealand Rockwren hopping through the boulder fields
  • Overly-bold Keas will have to be kept away from our vehicles in certain carparks!
  • Hauraki Gulf pelagic for the endangered New Zealand Storm Petrel, Black Petrel and rare Pycroft’s Petrel.
  • Kaikoura pelagics deliver Antipodean Albatross, Westland Petrel and Hutton’s Shearwater.
  • A Stewart Island pelagic is our final chance to add some rarer southern ocean species.
  • A leisurely cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound looking for King Shag and the Critically Endangered Malherbe’s Parakeet.
  • Check winding, braided rivers for the Critically Endangered Black Stilt and completely bizarre Wrybill.


  • Day 1: Morning tour start at Auckland. Drive to Kerikeri, Bay of Islands.
  • Day 2: Drive to Whangerei.
  • Day 3: Pelagic boat trip off Marsden Cove. Drive to Warkworth.
  • Day 4: Tiritiri Matangi.
  • Day 5: Hauraki Gulf pelagic boat trip. Overnight at Warkworth.
  • Day 6: Drive to Miranda.
  • Day 7: Drive to Turangi.
  • Day 8: Drive to Napier.
  • Day 9: Drive to Wellington. Ferry to Picton, South Island.
  • Day 10: Queen Charlotte Sound boat trip. Drive to Kaikoura.
  • Day 11: Pelagic boat trip off Kaikoura.
  • Day 12: Drive to Arthur's Pass.
  • Day 12: Drive to Franz Josef.
  • Day 13: Drive via Haast Pass to Waanaka.
  • Day 14: Drive to Te Anau via Fiordland National Park.
  • Day 16: Drive to Invercargill. Ferry to Stewart Island.
  • Day 17: Pelagic boat trip. Overnight Stewart Island.
  • Day 18: Return to Invercargill. Drive to Oamaru.
  • Day 19: Drive to Twizel.
  • Day 20: Early afternoon tour end at Christchurch airport.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

Tipping is not customary in New Zealand.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2025: provisional £6190, $7940, €7220, AUD11990, NZD12950. Auckland/Christchurch.

Single Supplement: 2025: £900, $1150, €1050, AUD1750, NZD1890.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in New Zealand Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


New Zealand: Day 1  Our New Zealand birding tour begins this morning at Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, situated in the northern part of North Island. We will have a great start to the tour at one of only three mainland breeding colonies of Australasian Gannet in New Zealand, where we can obtain superb views of these spectacular birds at close range without disturbing the colony.

After enjoying the spectacle we will head north to a small estuary, where we should find the uncommon Fairy Tern and the lovely New Zealand Dotterel, before continuing to the beautiful Bay of Islands for an overnight stay at Kerikeri.

Other species we should see today include Great, Pied and Little Pied Cormorants, White-faced Heron, Paradise Shelduck, Pacific Black Duck, Swamp Harrier, Australasian Swamphen, Variable Oystercatcher, Masked Lapwing, Ruddy Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kelp and Silver Gulls, Caspian and White-fronted Terns, Sacred Kingfisher and Welcome Swallow.

Rather sadly, and a reflection of how greatly New Zealand’s environment has been modified by man, other new birds likely as we travel through northernmost New Zealand include such introductions as Black Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, California Quail, Eastern Rosella, Australian Magpie, Eurasian Skylark, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, Common Starling, Common Myna, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch and Yellowhammer!

This evening we will go out to look for North Island Brown Kiwi. We will have to walk in silence, listening for these extraordinary birds as they wheeze and snuffle through the forest or its open margins. Careful use of a spotlight should enable us to watch one or two of these emblematic New Zealand birds at relatively close range, an utterly thrilling experience. We will surely hear Morepork during our kiwi walk, but we will leave observing this common species for another occasion.

New Zealand: Day 2  This morning we will explore some beautiful native forest close to the Bay of Islands. Here, amongst the magnificent kauri trees, we should encounter several New Zealand endemics including the huge and colourful New Zealand Pigeon, Grey Gerygone (or Grey Warbler), the North Island form of the New Zealand Fantail and Tui. We will also visit an estuary where the uncommon Brown Teal is regularly to be found.

Afterwards, we will travel southwards to Whangerei for an overnight stay.

New Zealand: Day 3  The rare Pycropft’s Petrel is a much sought-after Pterodroma that is seen on few pelagics out of New Zealand, in spite of breeding in a few locations. We will take a boat trip off Marsden Cove today in the hope of seeing one or more. We have a good chance of success and we also have a first opportunity to see many of the species listed for the upcoming Hauraki Gulf pelagic.

Later we will travel south to Warkworth, on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf, for an overnight stay. We should arrive in time for a short excursion to a nearby beach for a first chance to look for New Zealand Dotterel.

New Zealand: Day 4  Today we will catch a water taxi to Tiritiri Matangi Island where we will spend the night.

There is no finer way to see New Zealand’s endangered native birdlife than to visit the island sanctuaries of Northland. Introduced predators on the mainland, including rats, stoats and ferrets, have wrought havoc with the original avifauna, but islands such as Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf provide a last refuge for several vulnerable and endangered species.

While on this wonderful island we shall keep a sharp eye out for the attractive Stitchbird, a species now extinct on the mainland (and the sole representative of its own family, rather than a honeyeater!), and North Island Saddleback, a New Zealand wattlebird now also extinct on the mainland. Both are well established here. We will also keep a lookout for the shy North Island Kokako, a few pairs of which live on the island. Their beautiful calls ring through the island’s woodlands, a sound never to be forgotten.

A small population of Takahe has been introduced and we can expect to see this prehistoric-looking rail as it creeps through the tall grass, or wanders out in the open near the reserve headquarters. Spotless Crakes inhabit the small ponds, while Red-crowned Parakeets also occur in good numbers. The melodious calls of Tuis and Bellbirds fill the woodland air, Whiteheads are positively abundant and other widespread species we can expect to find include Brown Quail, North Island Robin and Silvereye.

The density of passerine birds here is quite extraordinary and gives one an idea of what the native forests on the mainland must have been like before the devastation wrought by introduced predators and other disruptive species. Many of the birds here are extremely tolerant of man and provide superb photographic opportunities.

Tiritiri is a good place to see Long-tailed Cuckoo. After dark, we will go out in search of Little Spotted Kiwi, which we have an excellent chance of observing. We are also likely to encounter a few Little Penguins as they make their way to their burrows under cover of darkness.

New Zealand: Day 5  This morning we will be picked up by our charter boat and travel out into the open waters of the Hauraki Gulf in order to look for a fantastic selection of seabirds, including Flesh-footed, Buller’s, Sooty, Fluttering and Little Shearwaters, Common Diving Petrel, Black and Cook’s Petrels, Fairy Prion, White-faced Storm Petrel, Little (or Blue) Penguin and perhaps Pomarine Jaeger (or Pomarine Skua).

Our most-wanted bird will, however, be the near-mythical New Zealand Storm Petrel, which has recently been rediscovered in the waters off Little Barrier Island after a gap of more than a century! Based on recent observations, we have a good chance of success at this time of year.

We may also encounter Short-beaked Common and Common Bottle-nosed Dolphins or even a whale or two.

We will spend the night back at Warkworth on the mainland.

New Zealand: Day 6  This morning we will drive southeastwards to Miranda for an overnight stay.

Miranda is situated on the Firth of Thames. The latter is a large bay to the southeast of Auckland where New Zealand’s largest concentration of migrant waders from northern Asia can be found during the southern summer. Bar-tailed Godwits are abundant, but there are also smaller numbers of Red Knots and Ruddy Turnstones, and often two or three of the more uncommon visitors such as Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and Red-necked Stint.

Of greater interest for us, New Zealand breeding species such as South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Pied (or White-headed) Stilt and New Zealand Dotterel can also be found in this splendid area, along with the strange Wrybill. The Wrybill, which is unique in having a sideways-curving bill, has a population numbering only around 4,000 birds and is declining in the face of introduced predators and hydroelectric schemes.

White-fronted Terns breed on the shell banks at the edge of the firth and Black-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns often roost here, while Royal Spoonbills often forage in the shallows.

We will also visit a wetland area where we should see the rare Australasian Bittern.

New Zealand: Day 7  The very scenic area around Lake Taupo is one of the best areas in New Zealand for the attractive but elusive Blue Duck. This rare and secretive denizen of New Zealand’s forested rivers, which prefers stretches of turbulent water, is endangered through habitat loss and is now restricted to remote areas, where it can be hard to find.

Other new birds we should encounter in the Lake Taupo region include New Zealand Grebe (or New Zealand Dabchick), Little Black Cormorant, Grey Teal, New Zealand Scaup, Kaka, Shining Bronze Cuckoo and the North Island forms of Rifleman and Tomtit. We also have another opportunity to look for North Island Brown Kiwi in this area, should we have failed to see it in the far north.

We will spend the night at Turangi.

New Zealand: Day 8  We will have more chances for North Island specialities today, including Kokako, before spending the night at Napier.

New Zealand: Day 9  Today we will drive south to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, at the southern tip of North Island.

[If there is any current news about the endangered Shore Plover flying over from Maud Island (where it has been reintroduced) to feed along the rocky coastline, we will stop along the way in the Plimmerton area, but this is a very rare event.]

We will then take the ferry across to Picton on South Island for an overnight stay. The three and a half hour crossing is quite good for seabirds, but the ferry moves fast and so the observations are nothing like as satisfying as they are on our various pelagics.

New Zealand: Day 10  During our stay at Picton we will take a boat trip in Queen Charlotte Sound, which is nowadays a hugely important refuge for New Zealand endemic birds.

As we cruise along Queen Charlotte Sound, we will capture the essential essence of the Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park as we journey through this interface between land and sea where forested peninsulas, notched and scalloped by countless bays, stretch out into waters dotted with islands.

An important focus of the cruise is White Rocks with its colony of New Zealand King Shags. Fewer than 800 of this attractive species survive and all are found in the Marlborough Sounds and Cook Strait. After closely approaching the rocky pinnacles where the shags breed we will explore the much-indented coastline.

We will call at Motuara Island, where we should see South Island Saddleback (now treated as a separate species from its North Island cousin) and where some very tame Bellbirds and South Island Robins (likewise now treated as distinct from the New Zealand Robins on North Island) will enthral us. We may also be able to see some Little Penguins.

We will also visit Blumine Island in search of Malherbe’s (or Orange-fronted) Parakeet, a very rare endemic that is generally straightforward to find at this location.

Afterwards, we will head southwards along a spectacular stretch of coastline to Kaikoura for a two nights stay.

New Zealand: Day 11  The deep waters of the Pacific off Kaikoura hold a remarkable assemblage of marine birds. Today we will travel by boat well offshore and enjoy some superb pelagic birding. Likely species include most of those we will already have encountered off North Island and also the huge Antipodean Albatross (and perhaps also Wandering), the equally enormous Northern Royal Albatross (and perhaps also Southern Royal), Black-browed, Campbell, Salvin’s and Shy Albatrosses, the endemic Hutton’s Shearwater (which breeds at about 1200m above sea-level in the Kaikoura Range), Northern Giant Petrel (and perhaps also Southern Giant), Westland, White-chinned, Cape and perhaps Great-winged Petrels, and Parasitic Jaeger (or Arctic Skua).

Dusky Dolphins are both frequent and extremely tame, whilst if we are fortunate we will see Great Sperm Whale and the endangered Hector’s Dolphin.

Around Kaikoura town, we may see Pacific Reef Egret and the introduced Common Redpoll.

New Zealand: Day 12  Early this morning we will head for the small settlement of Bealey in the Southern Alps. Along the way we will stop to look for Great Crested Grebes of the Australasian population (possibly a distinct species), the strange-looking Cape Barren Goose (it is uncertain whether the New Zealand birds are introduced or naturally occurring) and perhaps Black-fronted Dotterel. We will also enjoy some dramatic scenery as we ascend to Porter’s Pass from the Canterbury Plains.

The Bealey area is home to Yellow-crowned Parakeets, as well as the South Island forms of the New Zealand Fantail and Tomtit, and we will also have a first chance to see a New Zealand Falcon patrolling the wide river valley.

Eventually, we will reach Arthur’s Pass where we will spend the night.

After dinner, we will make an excursion in search of the impressive but elusive Great Spotted Kiwi. This is the largest of New Zealand’s kiwis, but also probably the shyest, so we will need great fortune if we are to see one (hearing one is a lot easier). We are also likely to encounter Morepork. Named after its call, this is New Zealand’s only surviving native owl.

New Zealand: Day 13  This morning we will cross over Arthur’s Pass where, if the weather is good, we will enjoy some awesome views of the Southern Alps, right under the gaze of Mount Rolleston, the highest peak in the Arthur’s Pass National Park. We may see our first Keas here too. Beyond the pass, the descent of the steep Otira Valley is also highly scenic.

Eventually, we will reach the Tasman Sea coast south of Greymouth. The extraordinary rock formations at the aptly-named Pancake Rocks are a well-known tourist destination, and we will have time to admire the dramatic scenery while watching a colony of White-fronted Terns as they squabble over their territories. We may also find our first Weka here, a remarkably confiding and flightless member of the rail family whose populations are now sadly fragmented on the mainland.

From the Greymouth area, we will head south along the coast to Franz Josef for an overnight stay amidst some awesome scenery. Ancient forests, snow-encrusted peaks (weather permitting!), silver lakes, glistening glaciers and impetuous rivers rushing down to the sea make South Westland an area of outstanding natural beauty.

We will arrive in time to visit the impressive Franz Josef Glacier, and in the evening we will search for the restricted-range Okarito Kiwi. With persistence, we stand a good chance of coming across one.

New Zealand: Day 14  Today we will at first continue southwards towards Haast. The road follows the coast for part of the journey and we will make a few scenic stops en route.

Afterwards, as we head inland to Waanaka for an overnight stay, we will break the journey at Haast Pass, where the magnificent forest still holds a population of the endangered Yellowhead.

New Zealand: Day 15  This morning we will visit one of the few accessible areas in which the delightful Rock Wren can be seen. Undisturbed for most of their lives by humans, these tiny but often elusive birds can be readily approached amongst the fields of Mount Cook Lilies, New Zealand Foxgloves and Wild Spaniards. As we search for the wrens we will be surrounded by sheer rock walls and some of the most impressive alpine scenery in New Zealand.

We will spend much of the day in Fiordland National Park. Here in this far-flung corner of New Zealand the ocean and the mountains have created an incomparable landscape – the wildest, wettest, grandest and most remote part of these islands. We will visit the lakes, rivers, fiords and superb subantarctic beech forests that are characteristic of the area in search of their varied birdlife.

Species of interest here include New Zealand Falcon, Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Rifleman (one of the New Zealand wrens) and Brown Creeper (or Pipipi). The secretive Long-tailed Cuckoo can often be heard, and we have a good chance of seeing one here. The Eglinton Valley was formerly well known for its Yellowheads, a species once widespread in South Island but now localized and scarce. However, a recent population decline, probably induced by Stoat predation, has made it very hard to find in this area.

As we follow the road towards Milford Sound we come to the scenic Upper Hollyford Valley with its superb alpine meadows and boulder fields under towering, snow-capped peaks. Along the Hollyford River, we will have another opportunity to find the elusive Blue Duck.

We will also be watching out for that large alpine parrot, the Kea, which sometimes pays a visit to rob the unwary of lunch, gloves or lens caps!

In addition, we will have an opportunity to admire the spectacular beauty of Milford Sound on a boat trip, and at the head of the sound we will keep a lookout for Fiordland Crested Penguins standing guard along the rocky shoreline.

Eventually, we will reach the small town of Te Anau where we will overnight.

New Zealand: Day 16  This morning we will drive to Invercargill, at the southernmost extremity of South Island, where we will look for the rather secretive Fernbird.

From the port of Bluff near Invercargill, we will cross the Foveaux Strait by ferry or air to Stewart Island for a two nights stay at Halfmoon Bay.

In the evening, weather permitting, we will make a boat trip to a remote headland where, after creeping silently through the dense forest, we will arrive after dark at a sandy beach where Southern Brown Kiwis (or Tokoekas) have developed the habit of coming out into the open to feed along the tideline. Our guide knows the birds and the area intimately, so we have an excellent chance of being able to watch one or two at relatively close range.

New Zealand: Day 17  Stewart Island and its offshore islets provide a home for land birds which have become rare on the mainland and for countless oceanic birds. Today we will travel well offshore by charter boat for a full-day pelagic. We can expect some incredible views of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters all around us, for here we are at one of the seabird capitals of the world. Shy Albatross is numerous and we should also see Salvin’s and Southern Royal Albatrosses, and Brown (or Subantarctic) Skua. There is also a good chance of seeing Buller’s Albatross.

In addition, we are likely to turn up one or two of the rarer visitors such as Mottled Petrel or Broad-billed Prion, or possibly even Antarctic Tern. We should also see some Yellow-eyed Penguins and Fiordland Crested Penguins, both of which nest in small numbers on islets off Halfmoon Bay.

Both Yellowhead and South Island Saddleback have been introduced to the predator-free Ulva Island in Patterson Inlet and if we need to visit we will surely encounter both these endangered species, as well as Weka (a bold, chicken-sized rail that has become very accustomed to visitors).

New Zealand: Day 18  Today we will return to Invercargill and drive north-east to Oarama for an overnight stay. During the late afternoon, we will visit a remote beach where the large and impressive Yellow-eyed Penguin nests.

En route, providing timings permit, we will visit Taiaroa Head at the entrance to Otago Harbour. Here we will see the only mainland colony of the Northern Royal Albatross, one of the largest flying birds on earth. We will be able to watch these huge birds gracefully sailing back and forth as they approach or leave the colony, and watch some of the adults at their nest sites. Nearer sea level is a large colony of Stewart Island Shags and smaller numbers of Spotted Shags, which at this time of year will include many birds in full breeding plumage.

New Zealand: Day 19  We will head inland to Twizel, situated in the dry ‘rain-shadow’ of the Southern Alps, for an overnight stay.

In the Twizel area, we will search the braided river systems, marshes and inland deltas for a rare inhabitant of the shingle spreads while enjoying some stupendous scenery. The world population of the Black Stilt now numbers under 80 birds, making it one of the rarest waders of all. Resident here in the Mackenzie Country, it has been badly affected by the depredations of introduced ferrets and the population has plummeted. In addition, it has suffered through hybridization with the colonizing Pied (or White-headed) Stilt, resulting in a further diminution of the population. Wrybill can also be found breeding here, while another species typical of these habitats is Double-banded Plover.

We should also find Black-fronted Tern in the wetlands, and New Zealand Pipit amongst the dry tussock grassland. The uncommon and impressive New Zealand Falcon can turn up almost anywhere in South Island, but this area offers one of our best chances.

Provided the weather is good we will enjoy truly spectacular views of Mount Cook (at 3764m, New Zealand’s tallest mountain) and the surrounding snow-covered Southern Alps.

New Zealand: Day 20  After some final birding, our New Zealand birding tour ends at Christchurch airport in the early afternoon.


by Dave Howes

View Report


View Report


View Report

Other New Zealand region birding tours by Birdquest include: