21-day New Zealand tours
visiting the North, South, and Stewart Islands
Start in Auckland, travel through North, South and Stewart Islands visiting all the birding and scenic highlights New Zealand has to offer. Finish in Christchurch.
Number of participants
Limited to 8 people per trip, with a single guide (unless specifically requested).
Please email us for pricing on this trip.
This guided tour, leaving from Auckland and ending in Christchurch, will visit some of New Zealand’s premier birding hotspots. During the 21-day trip, we aim to visit such places as Tiritiri Matangi, Miranda, the Central Plateau and Pureora Forest, Manawatu Estuary, Kaikoura, the South Island West Coast and Glaciers, Eglinton Valley, Central Otago, and Stewart Island.
New Zealand is simply a stunning country, with so many unique species of birds. We will be aiming to see members of the six New Zealand endemic families – kiwi, NZ parrots, NZ wrens, NZ wattlebirds, NZ creepers, and the stitchbird. However, this is the tip of the avian iceberg, with so many other unique species. How about wrybill – our name sake – the only species in the World to have a laterally curved beak, the New Zealand pigeon – the World’s largest, or the New Zealand storm-petrel – thought to be extinct until we rediscovered it during a pelagic in January 2003! Birding in New Zealand is an amazing experience, and seeing it with us will make it even more special. Although birds are our passion, New Zealand has a lot to offer in the way of scenery, history, and other wildlife (such as marine mammals). We will be sharing as much of this with you as we can.
As well as visiting many of the premier land-based birding spots, we will undertake several pelagic birding trips at various ports around the country – Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, Kaikoura and Stewart Island, plus we take ferries between the islands, adding in extra pelagic potential.
Time of year?
New Zealand birding differs very much to Northern Hemisphere birding, where in late summer birding can be difficult, with post-breeding passerines being skulky and difficult to find. In New Zealand we do not see the same seasonal changes. Although birds are not singing as much and are not in full breeding mode, they are just as reliably found in late summer. The weather in late summer is also generally more settled.
What can you expect to see?
Our 21-day tour boasts a species list of 155+ species on most trips, including around 65 endemic breeding species and 25-30 tubenose species. The following stats give an idea of our success rates since 2003 for finding the important (mostly endemic) species (note that list does not include all endemics seen during our tours). The record for our trips is 172 species, set by Brent in late 2015 (see trip report here).
100% Success : Southern brown kiwi, yellow-eyed penguin, NZ grebe, Buller’s & Hutton’s shearwater, black (Parkinson’s), Westland, Cook’s, Stewart Island, King & spotted shag, paradise shelduck, blue duck, NZ scaup, NZ falcon, weka, South Island & Variable oystercatcher, black stilt, NZ plover, banded dotterel, wrybill, red-billed gull & black-billed gull, white-fronted, fairy & black-fronted tern, NZ pigeon, kaka, kea, red-crowned parakeet, yellow-crowned parakeet, morepork, rifleman, NZ pipit, fernbird, tomtit (both sub-species), NZ robin (both species), whitehead, brown creeper, grey gerygone, stitchbird, bellbird, tui, saddleback (both species).
Less than 100% success (from around 30+ tours, % seen roughly speaking):
Northern brown kiwi – 85% seen, but heard on the nights it was not seen
Little spotted kiwi – 80% seen, but heard on the nights it was not seen
Okarito brown kiwi – 85% seen, but heard on the nights it was not seen
Great spotted kiwi – seen on ONE tour, and heard 100% (when tried for)
New Zealand storm-petrel – missed on ONE tour, plus ONE trip cancelled due to weather
Pycroft’s petrel – seen 100% out of Whitianga when boat has gone out (several times the trip has been cancelled). Not usually seen in Hauraki Gulf
Takahe – 95%+ missed on ONE tour
Australasian bittern – 90%
Fiordland crested penguin – 100% October – January. Often (~70%) found after January, but more difficult
Shining-bronze cuckoo – 95%+, occasionally missed in late summer
Long-tailed cuckoo – 95%+, occasionally missed in late summer
Rock wren – missed on ONE tour
Yellowhead – 95%+ missed on ONE tour
Kokako – 95%+ missed on ONE tour
A detailed itinerary is available upon request, please email us to express your interest. Or perhaps you like the look of this tour but would like to change dates or make adjustments to the schedule, we are more than happy to make such changes, where possible, upon request.