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 elimination of COVID-19 from New Zealand.  A pretty incredible feat, that has surely saved a lot of lives, through quite a well managed lockdown.  At the time of this lockdown, the New Zealand border was closed to all but returning New Zealand residents and citizens, and their families.

In August, after 102 days of no new COVID-19 cases in the community, New Zealand had an incursion of the virus in Auckland.  This is still from an unknown source, and although small numbers of COVID-19 positive New Zealanders are being detected at the managed isolation facilities when arriving back in to the country, the community cluster has not been linked to these.  Although the number of daily new cases is dropping following a lockdown of Auckland, and heightened levels of social distancing and health protocols around the country, it is likely to cause further re-evaluation of reopening the New Zealand border for International tourists.  With a Government election (now delayed until October) it is even more unlikely that any new Government will want to make decisions about reopening, and so we think it is now highly unlikely that the border will open before some time in 2021.  It really is anyones guess as to when that might be, and we suspect that it will only happen when a vaccine or effective treatment becomes widely available.

In this case we have had no choice but to postpone all of our planned 21-day tours for late 2020 and early 2021.  This decision was not something we took lightly, and we realise this is extremely disappointing for everyone.  But with the start of the season looming, we did not want to be in a position where we were making decisions last minute.  This would have left our clients and our amazing accommodation and charter service providers with little room to make new plans, and caused a lot of unnecessary stress.  Something we have always felt strongly about is being upfront and fair with our clients and the people we work with, and so we made this decision earlier than later.  All clients confirmed on these tours have been notified and with the exception of just a few, been rescheduled onto late 2021 and early 2022 tours.  We are very grateful for this, and currently look to a very busy and full 2021-22 season!

With this last point in mind, if you are currently thinking about New Zealand as a birding destination in the next few years, get in quick.  At least to register interest with us, if nothing else.  We are unlikely to be able to fit too many more folks on the next season, so at the earliest our availability might be in 2022-23.  Our 21-day tours are currently up to date with regards to availability, so take a look there.  Stay safe out there, and let’s hope for some good news in the not too distant future.