New Zealand is one of the most remote places on earth that during 8o million years of isolation has evolved a fascinating and unique fauna. Our comprehensive itinerary is specially designed to find as many of New Zealand's endemic and native bird species as possible, with around 65 endemic breeding species and 25 - 30 tubenose species possible, including 4 species of emblematic Kiwi, as well as a huge variety of other seabirds from the numerous boat trips and pelagics we will take. In fact the waters here are home to one of the finest concentrations of pelagic birds and cetaceans in the world and our superb boat trips will allow us to view albatrosses, penguins, and numerous petrels, shearwaters and prions. And all this set against a backdrop of some of the most magnificent and breathtaking scenery imaginable that includes glaciers, snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, hot geysers and volcanic springs as we search North, South and Stewart Islands during our 21 day itinerary.
We have structured the tour so that we have enough time to see the things we need to see without a hectic pace. Our tour aims to see members of the six endemic New Zealand families – the kiwi (aiming at four taxa, plus hearing a fifth), the New Zealand parrots (Strigopoidea, aiming at both Kaka subspecies and Kea), the New Zealand wrens (aiming for both of the two extant species), the New Zealand Wattlebirds (aiming for all of the three extant species), the newly revised Stitchbird now in its own family (Notiomystidae), and the New Zealand creepers, the Mohouidae (all three species).
We begin in Auckland with an introduction to the birdlife nearby such as North Island Tomtit, New Zealand Pigeon, Grey Fantail and Grey Gerygone (Grey Warbler). We will then head to a spot on the rugged west coast to one of New Zealand’s three mainland Australasian Gannet colonies before checking out a small estuary for Fairy Tern and New Zealand Plover. Then we take our first pelagic with an exciting time in the Hauraki Gulf in search of New Zealand Storm-Petrel, as well as other possibilities such as Black and Cook’s Petrels, Buller’s, Flesh-footed, Fluttering and Little Shearwaters, and White-faced Storm-Petrel. Amazing Tiri Tiri Matangi Island is next with North Island Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird, Takahe and North Island Robin. We will also wait for Spotless Crake to appear at one of the small ponds before heading out at night to look for Morepork and hopefully Little Spotted Kiwi
The world-renowned Miranda, in the Firth of Thames is next up with its Wrybill and Banded Plover, before venturing out on our next pelagic, where we specifically target Pycroft's Petrel. We will also hope to see Common Diving-Petrel, Buller’s, Flesh-footed and Little Shearwaters, Fairy Prions, Grey-faced, Cook’s and Black Petrels. The extensive Pureora Forest Park will be next with New Zealand Kaka, Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Shining-bronze Cuckoo and Rifleman amongst others. Over the next few days we will visit Turangi for Blue Duck, before taking the ferry to South Island, which offers more chances of seabirds before heading out into Queen Charlotte Sound and our search for New Zealand King Shag and the endemic Hector’s Dolphin. Kaikoura and its world-famous pelagic could well be one of the highlights of the tour with at least 3 species of albatross, normally as close as 5-6 feet away, with possibilities such as Northern and Southern Royal, Wandering, Black-browed, Campbell, White-capped and Salvin’s Albatross. On top of this add Cape Petrel, Westland and White-chinned Petrels, Northern Giant-Petrel and the endemic Hutton’s shearwater, plus the potential for other species like Grey-faced Petrel, Southern Giant-Petrel, Sooty and Short-tailed shearwaters, and you have the makings of a truly memorable morning. From here our journey takes us through the Southern Alps for Kea before reaching Franz Josef searching for South Island endemics such as New Zealand Brown Creeper, New Zealand Fernbird and Weka. We’ll also look for Fiordland Crested Penguin, Kaka, and then head towards Milford Sound seeking Rockwren along the way amidst some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. More seabirds are possible on the ferry to Stewart Island where we take yet another pelagic and spend an evening searching for Southern Brown Kiwi. We end the tour back on South Island looking for Yellow-eyed Penguin, the rare Black Stilt and New Zealand Falcon before ending the tour in Christchurch. This is guaranteed to be a trip of a lifetime.