Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ

Great birds, real birders.

Near Okarito we will spend an evening in search of the rarest of the kiwi species - the Okarito brown kiwi. We have a chance of seeing four species, plus great-spotted kiwi which is unlikely to be seen, but generally heard.
It is not only about birding, but having a great time as well.
We use clean and tidy accomodation around the country. Some such as this spot we use on our first night are in beautiful scenic locations and birding around the accomodations can often be good.
The alpine kea makes for a strange parrot, but will be seen in several places on the South Island. An incredibly curious bird they provide much entertainment.
Miranda is an amazing shorebird location, and we spend time here looking for wrybill and other migrant shorebirds.
The ancient looking takahe is a flightless endemic rail, considered extinct for almost 50 years, and now found on several predator free offshore islands.
The white-capped albatross, one of the larger 'small' abatrosses is frequently very common during our Stewart Island pelagic.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so, with this being part of the road through to the famous Milford Sound, which we visit if time allows.
We also try and see as many marine mammal species as possible on our tours, with the tiny Hector's dolphin highly likely to be seen.
We generally grab lunch from a cafe or bakery as we travel, and then enjoy it in a place where we will maximise our birding or scenic opportunities.
For our pelagics we use small charter boats that are specifically certified for taking passengers. The operators we are use are people we know and trust and provide the best pelagic experienced based on working with us over many years.
A courting pair of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) leap from the water. Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand.
A male South Island wren (Xenicus gilviventris) perched on a rock in its alpine habitat. Homer Tunnel, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. January.
North Island kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) feeding on leaves in the sub-canopy. Tiritiri Matangi Island, Auckland, New Zealand.
Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) feeding and walking head on showing the bent bill. Manawatu Estuary, Manawatu, New Zealand. September.
Southern brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) feeding for crustaceans on a sandy beach. No flash used, just dim flashlight. Ocean Beach, Stewart Island, New Zealand.
And the scenery from off Kaikoura can be equally stunning.
New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus), sometimes known as red-breasted plover, feeding on the shoreline. Waipu Estuary, Northland, New Zealand.
The New Zealand forest can be extremely beautiful, but with all this moss in a South Island Nothofagus beech forest it means there can sometimes be rain.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
As large as the wandering albatross, the Southern Royal albatross is likely to be seen on at least a couple of our pelagic opportunities.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
Buller's shearwater is a New Zealand endemic breeder, and will be seen commonly during several of our North Island pelagics.
Adult male yellowhead (Mohoua ochrocephala) peering into moss whilst foraging. Haast Pass, West Coast, New Zealand. January. Endangered.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so. This is Franz Josef glacier on the West Coast of the South Island and a place we stay near and stop at.
Small group sizes and relaxed travel times generally allow us to stop and make the most of birding locations we are enjoying.
The endemic blue duck can be difficult to find, but we visit the best location (and several others) for this species in the North Island, and also try to find it in the South Island.
Generally we dine at cafes and resturants, choosing from the normal menu, however on some nights we take the opportunity to get a little more personal, with catered meals providing an introduction to real kiwi food.
We target three species of penguin during the tour, with the largest being the yellow-eyed penguin. We generally find this bird both at sea and near its breeding sites on land.
A Cook's petrel (Pterodroma cookii) in flight, showing the underwing pattern. Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand.
The alpine kea makes for a strange parrot, but will be seen in several places on the South Island. An incredibly curious bird they provide much entertainment.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so, with this being part of the road through to the famous Milford Sound, which we visit if time allows.
We generally grab lunch from a cafe or bakery as we tarvel, and then enjoy it in a place where we will maximise our birding or scenic opportunities.
The recently rediscovered New Zealand storm-petrel, refound for the first time in 150+ years by Brent Stephenson and Sav Saville from Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ is a key target species. Our Hauraki Gulf pelagic not only finds several other endemic breeding seabirds, but specifically targets this species.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so, with views like this of Mount Cook (NZs highest peak) sometimes being possible.
New Zealand falcon is our only endemic diurnal raptor, and we have excellent opportunities to see this species both in the North and South Islands.
And sometimes it rains! But even if it does we make the most of the opportunities we have, as we did on this day, luckily managing to find the endemic rock wren in the rain - not an easy thing!
One of the Worlds rarest shorebirds, the black stilt, is a key endemic we aim to see.
Small group sizes and relaxed travel times generally allow us to stop and make the most of birding locations we are enjoying.
The New Zealand breeding endemic black (Parkinson's) petrel is generally seen on several of the North Island pelagics.
Our pelagic out of Kaikoura offers unrivalled close views of several species of albatross and other tube-nosed seabirds - not to be missed.
Although not specifically a photographic tour, our 21-day birding tours allow excellent photographic opportunities.
For our pelagics we use small charter boats that are specifically certified for taking passengers. The operators we are use are people we know and trust and provide the best pelagic experienced based on working with us over many years.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
The common endemic variable oystercatcher is seen throughout much of the tour.
We generally grab lunch from a cafe or bakery as we tarvel, and then enjoy it in a place where we will maximise our birding or scenic opportunities.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
The largest flying bird in the World, the wandering albatross, can be seen almost at arms length off Kaikoura and possibly also during our other pelagic opportunities.

Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ…….started out as a couple of birding mates making the decision to set up their own independent bird-guiding business. We felt there was a need for real BIRDERS, who were passionate about birding, really knew their New Zealand birds and birding sites inside out, and were based in New Zealand, with access to up-to-date information on the New Zealand birding scene. Sure we know our natural history as well, but we are BIRDERS, the name says it all!

Pelagic birding trips are just one of our specialties, with unrivalled knowledge within New Zealand. Our rediscovery of the supposedly extinct New Zealand Storm-petrel in 2003, as we were just starting to operate our business, was an amazing sign that we were really doing the right thing. However, we also know our land-birds just as well and know you will enjoy your New Zealand birding experience with us!

So here we are…….Sav Saville and Brent Stephenson, and recently due to being so popular, and restricting our group sizes to just 8 people, we have had to enlist the help of two other great New Zealand birders – Phil Hammond and Matt Jones. The decision to hire other guides was not one we took lightly, but as their clients have told us, they are excellent and fit well within our team!  Our list of services can be found here, with anything from pre-trip planning advice, to a full North and South Island organised tour (including Stewart Island), and anything in between. As Sav, Brent, Phil and Matt live in different parts of the country, we are also able to offer guided trips around our ‘neck-of-the-woods’ for one or more days, and make custom itineraries. Trip reports from our pelagics, personal birding trips, and guided trips can be found here. If you are visiting New Zealand, then email us to let us know how we can help.

So why choose us?

  • We must be doing something right if pelagic experts and overseas field leaders think we do a good job! Check out endorsements from World class seabirders here and see our testimonials page here.
  • We only operate in New Zealand, choosing to run tours on our home turf where we know things best.  That doesn’t mean we don’t travel and bird overseas though!
  • Our trip lists speak for themselves – during the last two summers our 21-day itineraries have consistently seen over 150 species with both Brent and Sav seeing 168 species on separate tours in late 2011, and Brent seeing 172 species (now the record) with a great group in Nov 2015! No other New Zealand operator even comes close to species lists like this!
  • Our 21-day tours are only run by birders we know and trust! Sav & Brent have been running tours by themselves since 2002, but have now enlisted the help of Phil Hammond and Matt Jones. Both Phil and Matt are excellent guides and birders and we have no hesitation bring them both onboard as guides.
  • We are licensed Department of Conservation concessionaires, permitted to operate on New Zealand’s conservation estate. This means some of your fee goes towards ensuring the conservation of the birds you will see. We also hold concessions for many of the Auckland Regional Council Regional Parks.
  • We love getting out and about birding, we are birders through and through – we even go birding on the weekend! BUT, we are also keen on plants, invertebrates, and other New Zealand wildlife. So a birding tour with us is NOT just hardcore birding, we take time to see the country and other things of interest during our 21-day tours.
  • Consistently travelling the country to see new birds – see our Rarities section for the things we have discovered, successfully twitched, and (damn it!) unsuccessfully chased…a little out of date, but we are so busy out there doing it we don’t have time to keep the website completely up to date ;)
  • Prominent in the NZ birding scene – Brent started and moderates BIRDING-NZ and is the record holder for the most birds seen in NZ in a calendar year (206 in 2006, see the streaming video here), Sav is now involved in the Rarities Committee for the OSNZ, having been the Regional Representative in his region in the past, and we both regularly contribute to BIRDING-NZ, are featured prominently in Steve Braunias’ ‘How to Watch a Bird’, and we rediscovered the supposedly ‘extinct’ New Zealand storm-petrel
  • Plus we love showing New Zealand and its fantastic birds to overseas birders! Read client testimonials here.
  • You will receive a free copy of Brent’s “Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide” when you book on one of our 21-day tours!
  • Do you need any more reasons to email us??

Upcoming Tours & News

American Birding Expo 2016

Well the British Birdwatching Fair is over and the response was amazing! A lot of people are obviously planning a trip to New Zealand, and spaces on our tours both this season and next are filling already. So if you are interested in a tour with us, don’t delay!...

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British Birdwatching Fair 2016

Both Sav and Brent will be at the British Birdwatching Fair which starts Friday 19 Aug and runs through to the end of Sunday 21 Aug.  We will be sharing a stand with our good friends from Albatross Encounter, and will be located with the other New Zealand operators in...

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New Website!

We have just launched this new website – with a lot of help from our good friend Richard Atkins – on 23 May 2016.  During the switchover to the new site, there may be a number of links which have been broken, and certainly not all of the information from...

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21-day tours, 2016-17 season

Our 21-day tours are proving to be incredibly popular this year again, with three departures before (as well as Brent in the Southern Ocean on some of our NZ Sub-Antarctic tour) and currently three departures after, the New Year. This means that all of our guides are...

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“Birds of New Zealand: A photographic guide”

Brent is very proud to announce that his book “Birds of New Zealand: A photographic guide” by Paul Scofield and Brent Stephenson has just been reprinted in New Zealand. First published in September 2013, the book sold out in just over two years, and has...

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NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands Tour, Nov 2016

We are offering a New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands Tour – Nov 2016 – on a small ship through all of the New Zealand sub-Antarctic island groups. Includes the Chatham Islands, Bounty Islands, Antipodes, Campbell Island, Macquarie, and the Auckland Islands...

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