As an island lying deep in the South Pacific, New Zealand boasts some extraordinary flora and fauna including birds not found anywhere else on the planet. Travel specialists New Zealand In Depth have now launched a brand new 28-night tour in search of the country’s rare and endangered birds.
Keen bird watchers will love it but so will anyone with an interest in wildlife as the trip takes you off the beaten track in search of the nation’s iconic kiwi and also kokako, kakapo, saddleback, mohua and tuatara. As well as the birdlife, the itinerary allows guests to experience New Zealand’s flora and fauna from the sub-tropical north, to the dramatic Fiordland region in the south; not to mention its world famous marine mammals.
The organisers describe it as simply “the best, and most comprehensive, birding experience available in New Zealand”.
Accommodation – supporting local conservation projects
Throughout the tour guests will stay in some incredible places (we love the look of the flash treehouses – see below) from luxury lodges to boutique B&Bs. All have their own projects to protect the local endemic birdlife, so each guest will indirectly be making a positive contribution towards local conservation efforts and predator control programs.
Prices and departures dates
Small groups depart in November 2016, March 2017 and November 2017.
A 28 night New Zealand Self-Drive Bird & Nature Tour with New Zealand In Depth costs from £6,500 per person, not including flights.
The price includes transfers, accommodation on a twin share basis in boutique hotels and luxury lodges, car hire with driving notes and maps, breakfast and some dinners (as per the itinerary – see below), the services of a Tour Director and activities and excursions (see website for more details).
For booking and further information (including excursions) visit www.newzealand-indepth.co.uk.
Full tour intinerary:
Day 1: arrive in Auckland – You will be met and transferred to your accommodation in the city centre. As you land in the City of Sails, your very first glimpse of New Zealand will see you crossing the harbours of Auckland and the green-grassed slopes of dormant volcanoes above this thriving Pacific city. Spend the early afternoon at leisure before an introduction to the world of the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Overnight: Auckland
Day 2: Auckland & Tiritiri Matangi Island- Sheltered within the Hauraki Gulf this island sanctuary, reclaimed for nature through countless volunteer hours, is today a spectacle of northern forest and birdlife. You will cross on the ferry to Tiri, as it is affectionately called, for a day to explore the pathways and birdlife of this predator-free island. Overnight: Auckland
Day 3: Auckland & Muriwai Beach- Today you will explore the hidden secrets, the pathways, the wildlife, the headland crowded with Australasian gannets at Muriwai and the beaches of the Waitakere Ranges. Overnight: Auckland
Day 4: Auckland – Lake Taupo – Today you will travel to Turangi on the southern shore of Lake Taupo. Overnight: Turangi
Day 5: Lake Taupo – Today you have four options to choose from: a guided 12 mile hike on the Tongariro Crossing, the best one day walk in New Zealand across volcanic landscapes; a gentle raft down the Tongariro River, home to 10 of the remaining 1400 pairs of blue duck or whio; fishing on the banks of Tongariro River; a leisurely drive around the area to key spots in search of the blue duck and numerous other bird species. Overnight: Turangi
Day 6: Lake Taupo–Paraparaumu–Kapiti Island – An early departure and a 3½ hour journey takes you south to Paraparaumu. On arrival you will transfer by ferry to Kapiti Island for anovernight stay at the eco lodge. The lodge’s wildlife sanctuary programme includes full guiding at the two entry areas and kiwi spotting in the evening. Overnight: Kapiti Island
Day 7: Kapiti Island–Paraparaumu–Wellington – The dawn chorus will wake you for breakfast today, amidst wonderful birdsong and the call of the kaka and kokako. Later you will return to the mainland at Paraparaumu and travel on to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. The afternoon is free to explore at your leisure whilst in the evening you will visit Zealandia, an inner city reserve of international importance, watch as dusk descends and the wildlife changes to morepork and kiwi. Overnight: Wellington
Day 8: Wellington–Marlborough Sounds – Today you will leave the North Island and venture to the majestic South Island. Depart early on the Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton. Join the Seafood Odyssey cruise at Picton Wharf for a wonderful boat trip through the Marlborough Sounds to Bay of Many Coves. On board you will get to enjoy a tasting of fresh Marlborough seafood – Regal salmon, Tio Point oysters and green-lipped mussels. Overnight: Marlborough Sounds
Day 9: Marlborough Sounds – Today you will explore the Marlborough Sounds by kayak, walk on the Queen Charlotte Track or you could just relax at Bay of Many Coves. Alternatively, see the conservation work that the lodge is doing with the blue penguin nesting boxes. Overnight: Marlborough Sounds
Day 10: Marlborough Sounds–Kaikoura – Returning to Picton by water taxi you will take the scenic route down the east coast to Kaikoura where the mountains meet the sea. Kaikoura, renowned as the whale watching capital of New Zealand, is the point at which a deep ocean trench provides a nutrient rich upswell which supports a huge concentration of marine wildlife. Overnight: Kaikoura
Day 11: Kaikoura – Today is a day of exploration in Kaikoura. Early this morning, you will join an Albatross Encounter adventure to explore the world of the albatross. Afterwards you will have time for breakfast in Kaikoura, before joining the Whale Watch guides to see sperm whales in the deep ocean. (Please note this tour is weather dependent so an alternative option would be to swim with dolphins or enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise with Dolphin Encounter or swim with the seals.) Later this afternoon we can enjoy a walk on the Kaikoura Peninsula and experience more wildlife sightings, explore the history of the town at Fyffe Cottage or visit the Maori Pa site and its classical defence system of trenches on the crest of the peninsula. Overnight: Kaikoura
Day 12: Kaikoura–Christchurch – Today you will take the scenic journey to Christchurch, via the Waipara wine region, with opportunity for tastings. Visit Orana Park Wildlife Park as well as The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust to hear about the special conservation work undertaken. This is a private Trust and visits are limited and exclusive. Overnight: Christchurch
Day 13: Christchurch – Today you will head to Akaroa to see Hector’s dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world which only breeds in the waters around Banks Peninsula. After lunch there is a visit to the white-flippered penguin colony before returning to Christchurch. These rare penguins that nest only on the Banks Peninsula with around 3,750 breeding pairs. Overnight: Christchurch
Day 14: Christchurch–Hokitika – Today you will have a scenic journey across Canterbury Plains towards the Southern Alps stopping at Lake Pearson to spot the very rare Australian crested grebe. Short walks at Bealey Valley beech and moss forest for robins, rifleman, silvereye and fantails. Stop at Otira Viaduct Lookout to see kea, the world’s only alpine parrot. Continuing across to the west coast and Hokitika. Overnight: Hokitika
Day 15: Hokitika–Okarito – Known as “The Coast”, the narrow strip of land between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps hosts an area of wilderness untouched by time and man. Turning off the main highway your overnight stop is in Okarito, a small coastal village created during the gold rush of 1860s, but now home to around 30 holiday baches (holiday homes). Join an evening kiwi spotting tour to see the Okarito kiwi in its natural habitat. Overnight: a bach (kiwi holiday home) in Okarito
Day 16: Okarito – Today you will join a 2 hour nature cruise on the lagoon to explore the waterways and over 70 species of bird including rare white heron and royal spoonbills. After lunch you can relax or join a guided walk to the Trig View Point for stunning views of Mount Cook. Overnight: Okarito Bach (kiwi holiday home)
Day 17: Okarito–Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki – Today your journey continues down the west coast with walks at Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier. At Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki you will meet Dr Gerry McSweeney, scientist and conservationist, to learn about the treasures of the local land and wildlife. You will also learn of the local conservation works. Overnight: Lake Moeraki
Day 18: Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki – Today you will take a guided walk in search of Fiordland crested penguins, the world’s second rarest penguin which returns each year to a small number of beaches on the west coast to breed (October and November only). There are many activities available at the Lodge including kayaking, fishing, forest walks or just relaxing. Overnight: Lake Moeraki
Day 19: Lake Moeraki–Queenstown – Today you will travel from Lake Moeraki to Queenstown via the lakeside route past Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and Lake Wakatipu with short walks at Ships Creek, Fantail Falls and Blue Pools. Overnight: Queenstown
Day 20: Queenstown – Relaxing day to explore Queenstown. Optional activities include wine tour, 4×4 adventure to Skippers Canyon, Lord of the Rings tour, TSS Earnslaw Steam Boat trip to Walter Peak Farm station. Overnight: Queenstown
Day 21: Queenstown-Te Anau – Today you will travel to Te Anau, the Gateway to Fiordland, stopping at Mavora Lakes for a short walk. Overnight: Te Anau
Day 22: Te Anau – Today you will join Trips & Tramps for a half day guided walk on the Kepler Track. An optional activity is to join a glow worm tour on Lake Te Anau. Overnight: Te Anau
Day 23: Te Anau–Doubtful Sound – Today you will travel into the heart of Fiordland crossing Lake Manapouri and over Wilmot Pass into Doubtful Sound for an overnight cruise with your dedicated and highly experienced nature guide. Explore from the depths of the fiord to the Tasman Sea, watch for resident dolphins, kayak and learn of the unique seabed environment in these waters created by a freshwater layer sitting at the surface. Overnight: on board Fiordland Navigator
Day 24: Manapouri–Stewart Island – You will return to Manapouri by midday and then travel across the South Island to Stewart Island crossing the fertile Southland plains to Invercargill and the port of Bluff. Here we take the ferry to Stewart Island. Rakiura National Park, encompassing the majority of Stewart Island, is New Zealand’s newest park, the township of Oban, nestled around Halfmoon Bay and into Paterson Inlet, is the only village. Overnight: Stewart Island. Evening: kiwi watch programme for Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (alternate activity: talk by local Department of Conservation staff member).
Day 25: Stewart Island–Ulva Island – Ulva Island in Paterson Inlet is iconic for its birdlife, its history and its forest.Walk the pathways across the island, surprise yourself as the path arrives to a beautiful remote white sand beach, and experience saddlebacks that flit across the air and friendly robins watch as you pass. This is a morning to treasure on this very specialreserve and in the afternoon you will join a pelagic birding trip to see Buller’s, Salvin’s, royal and wandering albatross, shearwaters and petrels. Overnight: Stewart Island
Day 26: Stewart Island – Explore Stewart Island with options around boat trips, guided tour of Stewart Island. Overnight: Stewart Island
Day 27: Stewart Island–Catlins Forest Park–Dunedin – An early morning departure today from Stewart Island. You will follow the Southern Scenic Route to the little known Catlins Forest Park. From the Cathedral Caves on the beach to populations of mohua (yellowhead) in the beech forest, your hosts Mary and Fergus will walk with you into the forest sharing their passion for this area. Overnight: Dunedin
Day 28: Dunedin – You will start the day by visiting Orokonui Eco Sanctuary just north of Dunedin for a guided walk. Opportunities to see kaka, takahe, tui,bellbirds, silvereye, fernbird, grey warbler, rifleman, Otago skink, jewelled gecko and tuatara. In the afternoon we head to the Otago Peninsula for the northern royal albatross, yellow–eyed penguins, New Zealand sea lions and cormorants who thrive on the southern ocean up swellings around the Otago Peninsula and we share their home for the day. Overnight: Dunedin
Day 29: depart Dunedin and international flight connection – Today you will travel to Dunedin airport and connect with your international departing flight.