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Birding in New Zealand (1 Viewer)


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Hi, I will be in NZ in Jan 2009 a few days in each of Auckland Christchurch and Wellington, I would like to do some birding but time is short, could I have some suggestions of birding spots close to these cities, or even better a kind person willing to show me around, all expenses down to me of course.

thank you
Hi Garganey

Have you read my trip report in 'Vacations' - pretty much covered the whole country so should find something of use in there...hopefully!
Hi Garganey

Try this for size. I am also going to NZ for a month in February having been a couple of times I have to say you will love it.

North Island Locations

Aroha Island Ecological Centre
A mainland island with resident kiwi and other birdlife. Mangroves, rocky shore, swimming beach. Park-like grounds. Accommodation, camping and information centre. Hear kiwi calling at night. Contact: Queen Elizabeth II National Trust on 0800 0800 467 3672 www.openspace.org.nz.

Tiritiri Matangi Island
An open sanctuary managed by the Department of Conservation. It is home to some rare species of birds that can only be seen in sanctuaries or on islands. These include stitchbirds, North Island saddlebacks, takahe, brown teal, little spotted kiwi. More common species like fantails, tui, bellbirds, North Island robins, and native pigeon (kereru) are in great abundance.

Tiritiri Matangi Island may be reached by boat from Gulf Harbour, Whangaparaoa Peninsula (one hour’s drive north of central Auckland) or by boats leaving from the ferry wharves in downtown Auckland. For further information visit the Department of Conservation website
Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf offers seabird enthusiasts the chance to observe some of New Zealand's unique petrels and shearwaters some which only breed in Northern New Zealand. Perhaps the most exciting is the chance to see the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm Petrel. This bird is now regularly seen on day-long pelagic trips from Sandspit (pictured in the banner above). Visit the Pterodroma Pelagics web site www.nzseabirds.com or contact Chris on 09 422 6868 or 021 668 811

Dolphin Planet’s Dolphin Watch tours in the Hauraki Gulf offer observation of a variety of marine mammals including common and bottlenose dolphins, Bryde’s and orca whales as well as birds such as Australasian gannets, little blue penguins, terns, three species of shearwaters, petrels, gulls and shags. For more information visit www.dolphinplanet.co.nz. Special rates can be offered to Forest & Bird members.

Muriwai Beach Gannet Colony
Located an hour’s drive north west of Auckland on the west coast of the North Island. Australasian gannets breed here on a rock stack off the coast every year from October to March. Viewing platforms on the coast offer a spectacular vantage point of the colony and the coastline. Information panels are also very good. Highly recommended and access is free.

Miranda Shorebird Centre
Located about an hour south of Auckland on the Firth of Thames. Casual accommodation for up to twenty people is available in bunk rooms or self-contained units. The centre is staffed and has excellent displays and information on wading and migratory birds. Viewing is dependant on the tides as migratory birds come to the shellbanks at high tide. At other times they are out feeding on the mudflats. It is recommended that visitors should allow a day. Birds commonly seen: Wading birds are there all year round, but the main flocks of godwit and knot are on location between September and March. Wrybill and oystercatchers are around from late January through to July/August. Other species regularly seen are sharp-tailed sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, red-necked stint, eastern curlew, ruddy turnstone, New Zealand dotterel, and banded dotterel. There are usually a Siberian tattler and one or two Terek sandpipers over the summer as well. Website www.miranda-shorebird.org.nz

Kiwi House and Native Bird Park, Otorohanga
This is a native fauna and flora park, specialising in kiwi and tuatara. Also has the rare North Island kokako and many species of owls. The large dome aviary has many native birds. A camping ground is adjacent to the park. Admission charges apply. Website www.kiwihouse.org.nz

Ahuriri Wetlands
Adjacent to Napier city and airport, this estuary supports a large and varied population of birds on tidal mudflats and coastal waters. A walkway system begins from Humber Street and is well signposted. It skirts the estuary, continuing across the old Embankment Bridge and back to the starting point via the northern side. It is an easy walk, taking about one hour with seating provided at suitable viewing sites. Birdlife commonly seen throughout the year includes South Island pied oystercatchers, dotterels, Caspian terns, gannets, shags, mallard ducks, grey ducks, shoveller and paradise ducks, pukeko and spur winged plover. Sightings of Australasian bittern, white heron (kotuku), egret and spoonbill are augmented from September to March by arctic breeding birds – predominantly godwits. For further information contact the Visitor Information Bureau, Napier City, or the Ahuriri Estuary Protection Society, P O Box 796, Napier.
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
This is a summer breeding ground for a large number of Australasian gannets. It is situated 10km around the coast from Clifton Bay, Hawkes Bay, on the East Coast of the North Island. The colony is occupied from October to March and can be reached either on foot (a 20km return journey along the beach) or by a number of organised tours. Access is restricted to those times of the day when the tide is out, so departure times of tours vary every day. Adult gannets and chicks can be observed at very close range going through courtship and breeding.

Tour operators offer very different experiences. Please contact them directly for further information:

Gannet Beach Adventures operate trailers pulled by tractors along the beach. www.gannets.com phone 06 875 0898 or 0800 426 638

Overland trips (across farmland) are organised by Gannet Safaris. Phone 06 875 0888 or 0800 4ASAFARI.

Manawatu Estuary
Located near Foxton beach. It is notable as being one the most important habitat for wading birds on the west coast of the North Island. Visited regularly by birdwatchers over the past 35 years, the list of birds seen here is one of the longest for any area in New Zealand. It is perhaps best known for the wide variety of Arctic-breeding migrant wading birds that occur here over the summer, when birds that breed in Siberia and Alaska can be seen at very close quarters. Bar-tailed godwits and red knots are the most common species, but golden plovers, curlews, and several species of sandpiper can be seen also. Most of these moult into a colorful breeding plumage in February and March and visits then can provide arguably the best viewing of wading birds to be had in New Zealand. The best known New Zealand breeding bird at the estuary is probably the royal spoonbill while the most unique bird is surely the wrybill. For more details about this area contact Bryan Tyler, 4 Byrd St, Levin. Phone 06 368 1484

Nga Manu Nature Reserve
About 50km north of Wellington near Waikanae, and about 5km west of State Highway 1. Gently-graded walkways give wheelchair access to 15 hectares of lowland swamp forest with mature specimens of kahikatea, pukatea, rimu, tawa, swamp maire and many native shrubs and ferns. Native birds that may be seen include kaka, kea, kakariki, blue duck, paradise shelduck, shoveller, scaup, grey teal, grey duck, tui, kereru, kingfisher and many more. There is a nocturnal house for kiwi and owls together with special enclosures for tuatara, skinks and geckos (lizards). www.ngamanu.co.nz

Waikanae Estuary
The Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve is home to over 63 species of birds (at some time during the year), many of these can be seen in their natural and native habitats during a bird tour with Mik Peryer.www.kapitibirdtours.co.nz

Kapiti Island
The island is a closed sanctuary managed by the Department of Conservation. It is located a 15 minute boat ride off Paraparaumu Beach (one hour’s drive north of Wellington). Kapiti is home to birds only seen in sanctuaries or on islands including stitchbirds, North Island saddlebacks, takahe and Little Spotted kiwi. More common species like fantails, tui, bellbirds, North Island robins, kaka and native woodpigeon (kereru) are in great abundance. Visitors are limited to 50 per day and bookings must be made well in advance particularly for the summer months. For further details regarding transport or information go to the Department of Conservation website

Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre
The Department of Conservation’s breeding centre for rare native birds including kaka and kokako is located twenty minutes drive north of Masterton on State Highway 2. Also on view for the public are kiwi, takahe, stitchbird and many more all in a cool forest setting. Open seven days a week from 9am to 4.30pm. Phone 06 375 8004. Website www.mtbruce.org.nz

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
The Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Visitor Centre is the only public entrance to the Sanctuary, which is surrounded by a predator proof fence. It is located at the end of Waiapu Road, Karori, Wellington. You can walk around teh sanctuary or do a guided tour. Evening tours also available to listen to kiwi. Website www.sanctuary.org.nz
South Island Locations

Farewell Spit
At the north-western-most corner of the South Island Farewell Spit is a wetland of international importance and a Bird Sanctuary of world renown. Access is by organised tour only as the shifting sands and tides can make the area treacherous to the uninformed. Departure times vary according to tidal conditions.

Two companies operate tours:
*Farewell Spit Eco Tours - PO Box 15, Collingwood. Phone 03 524 8257 www.farewellspit.com
*Farewell Spit Nature Tours - PO Box 61, Collingwood. Phone 0800 250500 or 03 524 8188

Marlborough Sounds
Located at the north of the South Island. There are a number of island sanctuaries for rare wildlife. With Eco Tours you can visit Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary where South Island saddlebacks have been released and bellbirds and robins abound. Also see the rare king shags, little blue penguins, gannets, pied and spotted shags. Prebooking essential – minimum 2. Contact: Dolphin Watch Eco Tours P O Box 197, Picton. Phone 03 573 8040. Website www.naturetours.co.nz

Myths and Legends Ecotours, Marlborough offer personalised ecotours in the beautiful sheltered waterways of the Queen Charlotte Sounds.Birdwatching, wildlife encounters and Maori culture whilst cruising on a classic launch, the Tutanekai. Phone: 03 573 6901 or 027 5404 407. Website www.eco-tours.co.nz

Driftwood Ecotours Blenheim, Marlborough was created so that Will Parsons can share with you private access to locations in Marlborough of ecological and historical significance. These distinctive environments offer many bird watching opportunities, including viewing New Zealand native birds such as the endangered Wrybill, Black Stilt & the breeding Royal Spoonbill and Caspian Tern. To arrange a tour please contact Will on Phone: 03 577 7651 or 0274 483 133. Website www.driftwoodecotours.co.nz
Kahurangi National Park
Bush and Beyond Guided Walks operate in Kahurangi National Park – New Zealand’s second largest and most diverse park. There is a wide range of habitats from wilderness coast to mountain peaks. Many bird species are to be found, including some of our rare species such as: great spotted kiwi, blue duck, kaka, rock wren, kea, fernbird and kakariki. For further information check our website: www.bushandbeyond.co.nz

Nelson Lakes - Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project
This project aims to restore 825 hectares of beech forest on the shores of Lake Rotoiti, in Nelson Lakes National Park. Key species the project seeks to restore include kaka, kakariki, bush robins, and other forest birds, rare plants including mistletoe, giant snails, bats and insects. In due course, it is hoped to reintroduce species lost to the area including kiwi and mohua/yellowhead. The area can be visited free of charge and their are campgrounds in the area. For more information contact Dept of Conservation St Arnaud Area Office, View Road, St Arnaud. Phone 03 521 1806.

A two hour drive north of Christchurch. It is world famous for its sperm whales, dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Pelagic bird watching tours are available all year round through Ocean Wings; albatross, mollymawks, petrels, shags, terns, shearwaters, gulls). Further information and bookings available through Dolphin Encounter, 58 West End, Kaikoura. Phone 03 319 6777 or 0800 733 365. Website www.oceanwings.co.nz

Also recommended is guided bird-watching in the lowland forest near Kaikoura run by Bush Birding Kaikoura. See the website www.virtual-kaikoura.com/birding for further information and contact details.

Banks Peninsula
Excellent bird watching along the Banks Penisula Walking Track. Three and four day options. Special features of the spring/early summer season include a guided tour of the mainland’s largest white flippered penguin colony. For further information go to www.bankstrack.co.nz

Paparoa Nature Tours
Viewing shelter and walkway within the world’s only breeding grounds of the Westland black petrel. General bird-watching, caving, canoeing and rainforest walks. Contact: P O Box 36, Punakaiki, West Coast. Phone/Fax 03 731 1826.

Okarito Lagoon and the White Heron Sanctuary, South Westland
This is the primary feeding grounds for kotuku (white heron) whose only New Zealand nesting colony is nearby on the Waitangi-roto river. The lagoon, New Zealand's largest un-modified estuary has magnificent views across the forests of Westland National Park to the Southern Alps.

The options to see the lagoon and nesting colony are:

Ian James, a local ecologist, runs specialised birding tours on Okarito Lagoon in a quiet boat built specially for bird watching and photography. These tours are early morning to see white herons feeding plus many other wading and forest birds. Contact Okarito Boat Tours www.okarito.biz, The Strand, Okarito, PB 777 Hokitika, Phone/fax 03 753 4017

Kayak to see white herons feeding on peaceful Okarito Lagoon. Half day, full day and overnight rentals available. Safe for beginners. Contact: Okarito Nature Tours, The Strand, Okarito PO Box 777, Hokitika. Phone/Fax 03 753 4014 Website www.okarito.co.nz

Jetboat tours depart from Whataroa (near Franz Josef Glacier) to the white heron breeding colony on the Waitangiroto River during the nesting season from November through to March. A colony of Royal Spoonbill also breed there. Contact: White Heron Sanctuary Tours Ltd, P O Box 19, Whataroa, West Coast.Phone 03 753 4120. Fax 03 753 4087 Website www.whiteherontours.co.nz

Okarito Kiwi Tours also operate under a DoC Concession in the kiwi habitat deep in the adjacent National Park. At present there is a 85% success rate in viewing the rarest kiwi ( Rowi ). Numbers are limited to 7. Contact: The Strand, Okarito, South Westland. Phone 03 753 4330. Website www.okaritokiwitours.co.nz
Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, South Westland
Quality accommodation. Rainforest ecology. Seacoast – sea elephant and fur seal tours, Fiordland Crested penguins. Canoe trips. Contact: Private Bag 772, Hokitika. Phone 03 750 0881. Fax 03 750 0882. Website www.wildernesslodge.co.nz

Black Stilt Viewing Hide, Twizel
Daily guided tours of the centre for critically endangered Black Stilt. Hide for viewing and photography, landscaped ponds, informative displays overlooking wetlands and breeding aviaries. Contact: Department of Conservation, Wairepo Road, Private Bag, Twizel. Phone 03 435-0802 Fax 03 435 852.

Takahe, Te Anau
The takahe was considered extinct until its rediscovery in Fiordland in 1948. Some birds are available for public viewing in aviaries outside Te Anau. For further information contact the Department of Conservation, P O Box 29, Te Anau. Phone 03 249 7921 Fax 03 249 7613.

Otago Peninsula - Royal Albatross Centre
The Otago Peninsula is the only mainland breeding colony for the Royal Albatross. A viewing centre has been set up at the colony, which is located an hour’s drive from Dunedin. Centre open all year. Chicks are on the nests from the end of January through to the end of August. Bookings essential for close encounter viewing. Website: www.albatross.org.nz Phone 03 478 0499.

Otago Peninsula - Yellow-eyed penguin Conservation Reserve
Also located at the end of the Otago Peninsula, an hour’s drive from Dunedin. Open all year, but particularly 1st October to the end of April. Winter hours are restricted to the last few hours of daylight. Hide viewing of nests is within 4 to 5 metres. Bookings essential. Phone 03 478 0286. Fax 03 478 0257. Website: www.penguinplace.co.nz

Catlins Wildlife Trackers
Visit yellow-eyed penguin and seal colonies. Two or four day options. Meals, transport and accommodation included. Contact: Catlins Wildlife Trackers, Papatowai, RD2, Owaka. Website: www.catlins-ecotours.co.nz Phone/Fax 03 415 8613 or toll free 0800 CATLINS.

Bushy Point Fernbirds. At the southern end of NZ’s South Island, only a 10-minute drive from Invercargill you will find the most accessible site in New Zealand to view Fernbirds. After a 5-minute walk along an easy track and boardwalk, you are in Fernbird territory. Nature allowing, tour guides will do their best to show you this normally secretive bird. There is also a homestay B&B on site, for more details see www.fernbirds.co.nz

Stewart Island
The island is an absolute haven for native birds and highly recommended. The Southern Tokoeka (species of kiwi) can be found foraging for food during daylight hours. This is the only species of kiwi that is active during the day. Tours run every second night from Half Moon Bay (the island township). Boat tours also run to Ulva Island bird sanctuary where weka, robins, saddlebacks and more common birds can be easily seen. Marine life such as dolphins abound. Further information and all bookings are available from the Department of Conservation, Stewart Island Field Centre, PO Box 3, Stewart Island. Phone: 03 219 1130 Fax 03 214 4486

Stewart Island - Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience
This tour offers eco-friendly guided nature walks and hikes, kiwi spotting trips and birdwatching on Stewart Island and Ulva Island. Experience the beautiful outdoors, see native New Zealand flora, learn about the Island's history or just get away from it all; we will have a trip to suit you. Website www.ruggedyrange.com
Good stuff Pluvius, thanks. I will also be there for 3 weeks in January.
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