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.
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 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.
A courting pair of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) leap from the water. Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand.
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.
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!
Miranda is an amazing shorebird location, and we spend time here looking for wrybill and other migrant shorebirds.
Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) feeding and walking head on showing the bent bill. Manawatu Estuary, Manawatu, New Zealand. September.
New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus), sometimes known as red-breasted plover, feeding on the shoreline. Waipu Estuary, Northland, New Zealand.
The New Zealand breeding endemic black (Parkinson's) petrel is generally seen on several of the North Island pelagics.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
A Cook's petrel (Pterodroma cookii) in flight, showing the underwing pattern. Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand.
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 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.
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.
And the scenery from off Kaikoura can be equally stunning.
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.
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.
North Island kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) feeding on leaves in the sub-canopy. Tiritiri Matangi Island, Auckland, New Zealand.
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.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
A male South Island wren (Xenicus gilviventris) perched on a rock in its alpine habitat. Homer Tunnel, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. January.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
Small group sizes and relaxed travel times generally allow us to stop and make the most of birding locations we are enjoying.
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.
Buller's shearwater is a New Zealand endemic breeder, and will be seen commonly during several of our North Island pelagics.
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 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 white-capped albatross, one of the larger 'small' abatrosses is frequently very common during our Stewart Island pelagic.
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.
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.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
It is not only about birding, but having a great time as well.
Southern brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) feeding for crustaceans on a sandy beach. No flash used, just dim flashlight. Ocean Beach, Stewart Island, New Zealand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the Worlds rarest shorebirds, the black stilt, is a key endemic we aim to see.
The common endemic variable oystercatcher is seen throughout much of the tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 views like this of Mount Cook (NZs highest peak) sometimes being possible.

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 some other great New Zealand birders – Phil Hammond, Matt Jones, Neil Robertson and Wendy Hare & Nigel Milius. 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 we all 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, Matt Jones, Neil Robertson and Wendy Hare & Nigel Milius. These guys are all excellent guides and birders and we have no hesitation bringing them onboard our awesome team.
  • 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. Where needed, we use an operator with a Marine Mammal Viewing permit.
  • 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 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

A chance to reflect on the 2018-19 summer season

Well, the end of Brent's tour a few days ago marks the end of our 2018-19 summer season!  It has been our biggest season to date, with nine 21-day tours, and a number of shorter custom tours throughout the season.  It has certainly kept us and our guides busy for the...

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Last days for Brent and his group

Yesterday was a big day of travel from Stewart Island heading north to Oamaru.  But some great views of yellow-eyed penguin and Otago shag were had along the way.  Today they had a stunning blue sky day in the Mackenzie Basin, with excellent views of black stilt, some...

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Stewart Island for Brent and his group

An excellent couple of days on Stewart Island for Brent and his group. Yesterday they spent the afternoon on Ulva Island a cleaned up, with lots of good birds showing well - yellowhead, South Island saddleback, red-crowned parakeet, etc.  Today was an excellent...

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Continuing strong with rock wren

Brent and his group managed to get great views of rock wren today, despite rain! https://b1rder.blogspot.com/2019/02/day-sixteen-wrens-in-rain.html Neil also had some success with his private group, getting some good views of cirl bunting and three species of grebe on...

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Another great day for Brent and Neil

Brent had a great day with his group - scoring a falcon early in the day certainly helped as this is a tricky bird to pin down.  Yellowhead in the afternoon was nice as well.  Check out the blog here - https://b1rder.blogspot.com/2019/02/day-fifteen-falcon.html...

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