Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ

Great birds, real birders.

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.
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.
A courting pair of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) leap from the water. Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Adult male yellowhead (Mohoua ochrocephala) peering into moss whilst foraging. Haast Pass, West Coast, New Zealand. January. Endangered.
Although not specifically a photographic tour, our 21-day birding tours allow excellent photographic opportunities.
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.
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.
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.
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 white-capped albatross, one of the larger 'small' abatrosses is frequently very common during our Stewart Island pelagic.
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.
The common endemic variable oystercatcher is seen throughout much of the tour.
Small group sizes and relaxed travel times generally allow us to stop and make the most of birding locations we are enjoying.
The South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
The ancient looking takahe is a flightless endemic rail, considered extinct for almost 50 years, and now found on several predator free offshore islands.
North Island kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) feeding on leaves in the sub-canopy. Tiritiri Matangi Island, Auckland, New Zealand.
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.
One of the Worlds rarest shorebirds, the black stilt, is a key endemic we aim to see.
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.
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.
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. This is Franz Josef glacier on the West Coast of the South Island and a place we stay near and stop at.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
Southern brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) feeding for crustaceans on a sandy beach. No flash used, just dim flashlight. Ocean Beach, Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Buller's albatross is surely one of the most beautiful of the albatrosses, and one on our target list.
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!
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.
It is not only about birding, but having a great time as well.
Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) feeding and walking head on showing the bent bill. Manawatu Estuary, Manawatu, New Zealand. September.
Our pelagic out of Kaikoura offers unrivalled close views of several species of albatross and other tube-nosed seabirds - not to be missed.
New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus), sometimes known as red-breasted plover, feeding on the shoreline. Waipu Estuary, Northland, New Zealand.
Buller's shearwater is a New Zealand endemic breeder, and will be seen commonly during several of our North Island pelagics.
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 male South Island wren (Xenicus gilviventris) perched on a rock in its alpine habitat. Homer Tunnel, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. January.
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.
And the scenery from off Kaikoura can be equally stunning.
The New Zealand breeding endemic black (Parkinson's) petrel is generally seen on several of the North Island pelagics.
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.
Miranda is an amazing shorebird location, and we spend time here looking for wrybill and other migrant shorebirds.
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 South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
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.
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 South Island is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rightly so.
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.
A Cook's petrel (Pterodroma cookii) in flight, showing the underwing pattern. Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand.

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, David Thomas, Andrew Crossland 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
  • 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 most summers our 21-day itineraries have consistently seen around 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 or Overseas 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 a great group of Guides. These folks are all excellent guides and birders and we have no hesitation bringing them onboard our awesome team!
  • We are Department of Conservation approved concessionaires, permitted to operate on New Zealand’s conservation estate. What does this mean?  It means we have passed the environmental standards set by DOC, as well as safety standards set by an independent auditor, and been approved to operate in public conservation areas.  It also 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.
  • 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), Sav is now involved in the Rarities Committee for Birds NZ (formerly the Ornithological Society of NZ), 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 our client testimonials
  • You will receive a free copy of Brent’s “Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide” when you travel with us on one of our 21-day tours!
  • And, we offset the travel and accommodation on all of our birding tours! We use World Land Trust’s Carbon Balanced fund to offset and we encourage you to visit their website and perhaps even offset your flights to New Zealand.  Visit the World Land Trust and use their carbon calculator for more info.
  • Do you need any more reasons to email us??

Upcoming Tours & News

COVID-19 September 2020 Update

Well, 2020 has certainly shaped up to be a strange and difficult year, for many reasons. We at the Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ team are all safe and well here in New Zealand. As we wrote the last update in early May, New Zealand had managed to get to the point of...

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COVID-19 May 2020 Update

We currently find ourselves in unprecedented times.  Thankfully we completed our last tours of the 2019-20 season in early March, just before International travel and shut downs started to occur.  All of our clients were able to safely travel home with memories of an...

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Tours are underway

Sav is currently a week into his 21-day tour. Going great with his group who are having a great time and getting a lot of good birds despite the very warm temperatures currently. Brent started today with his group, also doing a 21-day tour through New Zealand. Read...

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Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ now carbon offsetting tours

These days it is difficult not to be concerned about the effects of climate change, and our own contribution to it.  Our day to day lives may be lived with this in mind, but travel can seriously increase our carbon footprint, thereby increasing our impact on the...

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Tours rocking along

Well it has been a great few weeks for those on tour.  Lot's of good birds around, and on the whole some fairly reasonable weather.  Brent and his group continue a great run through the country, leaving the North Island with every gettable endemic, and two great...

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