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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Advice for NZ Trip in May (2 Viewers)

Fowl Mouth

Just a guy with dogs
Hey all. I understand that May is shoulder season, and moving into the winter, but the trip sort of fell in our laps and we couldn't say no. We are pretty equally split on all the great aspects of vacationing, from food and city culture, to vast landscapes, and not the least of course, wildlife. It's only two weeks.

To start, I've already read that easy access to little blue penguins is on private land with a strong eco-friendly slant, meaning NO cameras. Not just no flash, but across the board no cameras at all. I get it. Cell phone users who can't mitigate flash settings ruin it for the rest of us. But my first question is if anyone knows where to and how possible it may be to photograph little blues in the wild. I will go on record saying that I am excessively careful about not approaching sensitive wildlife, and typically use long telephoto lenses to ensure this. Oh, and I don't use flash :rolleyes: LOL.

A birder at heart I'm happy to hear about any tips or tricks for finding unique NZ bird species, such as kiwi, yellow-eyed penguins, takahes, etc... That said, other animals are also of interest. So any advice is welcome. Unfortunately not going to have time to hit Stewart Island. We will be renting a car so will have freedom of movement, though. We plan on spending a few days in Aukland, a few days in Queenstown, probably hit Milford Sound for a day if weather is cooperative. Also Dunedin, Oamaru and Christchurch a day or two each. Oh and definitely a high speed cruise out of Kaikōura in search of sperm whales.

Anyway, I know this forum is lightly traveled, and we are already pinning down our hotels and B&B stays, but any advice between now and May 2024 would be very useful. Thanks in advance.
Hey mate,
Not long now before the trip so no doubt you've planned most of it already.
Birding NZ.net is a great resource if you haven't already found it. For blue penguins you can visit "Blue Penguins Pukekura". You must pay and go in the evening but you can take photos. The area has some lights so you can photograph effectively. It's in a predator fenced area but they're all wild and quite a few to be seen. On the Otago Peninsular (where Blue Penguins Pukekura is) there are a number of other beaches where it is possible to see blue penguins and Sea Lions.
Yellow eyed can be seen somewhat reliably at the "Yellow Eyed Penguin Colony" in Oamaru but it can take time. Dusk apparently the best time but I've seen them around lunch too.
Kiwi are tough in the areas you mentioned but if you stay overnight on Tiritiri Matangi island near Auckland it is possible. Beds have to be reserved ahead of time on the Department of Conservation website but there will still be some availability at this time of year. You can easily see Takahe on this island during the day as well as other rarer endemics such as Saddleback, Stitchbird, Red-Crowned Parakeet and Kokako. A ferry is available from Auckland Harbour and elsewhere. Could see a blue penguin on the boat over too, I have seen them while out on boats in that area.

Hope that helps and have a great trip
Take a trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island. Rare native flightless birds are common there, including Kiwis and penguins. Most people go for day trips, but I recommend booking an overnight stay at the government cabin to see night birds. I did not see any penguins during the day there, but I saw some at night. Little Spotted Kiwis are nocturnal. Great opportunity to see Takahe
Trounson Kauri Park for North Island Brown Kiwi.
Southern Ocean pelagic birds such as several species of Albatross and Giant Petrels. Tours from Steward Island
Other pelagic tours at Kaikoura and Tutukaka.
Information on all of these here Birdtripper Main - Birdtripper

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