New Zealand ........ 16th November to 7th December 2017
Having evolved some 80 million years ago, the amazing islands of New Zealand are home to a fascinating array of fauna and plants. Here, the avifauna includes some of the rarest birds on the planet, having evolved in an environment totally different from most other land masses, because at that time there was an absence of ground predators. The situation changed when human habitation took place and the introduction of cats, rats, possums and other predators, resulting in the loss of 40% of its endemic bird species. Despite this, the impact has been less than many other similar countries and New Zealand can boast of its rare, unique and famed birdlife, with 70% of its species endemic. The country is renowned for such rarities as Wrybill, Blue Duck, Kiwi (5 species), Black Stilt, Takahe and Kakapo. Add to this the amazing variety of seabirds, which include King, Stewart & Spotted Shags, penguins and an amazing range of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, then New Zealand is set apart with this rich diversity, in such a small area. However, we must not overlook the country’s scenic splendour, which isabsolutely fabulous. Alpine snow-capped peaks, volcanos, rainforests, waterfalls and tranquil islets provide therefore, a wonderful backdrop to a superb wildlife adventure.
Days 1-2: Depart Heathrow to Auckland. Day 2 spent In Flight.
Day 3: After an early morning arrival in Auckland, we will have breakfast and then transfer to our hotel on the outskirts of the city. Afterwards we will visit a number of excellent birding sites where we should find a number of shorebirds including South Island & Variable Oystercatchers, Eastern Curlew and just possibly Wrybill. Other species present, include Paradise Shelduck, Black-billed & Red-billed Gulls. During the afternoon we’ll visit an Australasian Gannet colony. Overnight - Auckland
Day 4: We’ll visit Tiritiri Matangi, an island sanctuary just north of Auckland. Many of New Zealand’s rare and endangered species now only remain on islands such as this, as the habitat can be protected from the ravages of rats, possums and stoats. We’ll have a day on this picturesque forested island, to enjoy rare species such as the Saddleback, Stitchbird and Whitehead. Also present is the unique Takahe. After returning to the mainland we’ll drive to Miranda Wildlife Sanctuary, a fine feeding ground for many wading birds, which migrate from the tundra of the arctic regions for the northern winter. Among the thousands of Eastern Bar-tailed Godwits on the silt flats, we may view Red Knots and the rare endemic Wrybill and the endangered Northern Red-breasted Plover.
Overnight - Miranda
Day 5: After further observations of the shorebirds on the silt flats and lagoons, we’ll travel to Rotorua Geothermal Region and spend time birding the lake, where New Dabchick, NZ Scaup, and Little Black Shag occur.
Overnight - Taupo
Days 6-7: Travel to Pureora Forest Park, for the endangered Kokako, Kaka, Tomtit, New Zealand Robin, New Zealand Falcon, Whitehead and Grey Warbler. Later we travel to Tongariro National Park amidst a volcanic, sub-alpine forest and tussockland landscape. The streams close to our location are home to a few pairs of the endangered Blue Duck. Overnights – Whakapapa
Day 8: Travel to Wellington, where we will embark on a three hour ferry crossing to the South Island, with a chance to see seabirds, including Shy Albatrosses Fairy & Broad-billed Prions and shearwaters.
Overnight - Picton
Days 9-10: On Day 9 we’ll cruise through Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds where a small colony of the rare King Shag breeds - Spotted Shags are also present. Our venue is the predator free island of Motuara. Later we’ll head south to Kaikoura, a breath-taking place where snow-iced mountains reach down to the sea. The rich nutrients of the continental shelf here attract a rich and abundant marine life. Our seabird excursion could yield flocks of up to 6 species of albatross, including Wandering, Salvin’s & Royal, numerous petrels and shearwaters, just metres from the boat.
Overnights - Kaikoura
Day 11: Today our journey takes us west to the foothills of Canterbury and through Lewis Pass.
Overnight - Arthur’s Pass.
Day 12: This morning travel south into the lush Westland lowland rain forests and the Fox and Franz Glaciers. An Evening excursion to for the rare Okarito Brown Kiwi.
Overnight - Franz Joseph
Days 13-14: A travel day today to the arid inland basins near Aoraki and Mt. Cook, to the vast tussock landscapes of Central Otago. If time permits we’ll walk down to Munro’s beach, to look for Fiordland Crested Penguins. Then it is on to Mackenzie Country - a vast dry inter-montane basin with three glacial lakes. On Day 14 we’ll explore Mount Cook National Park and the spectacular Hooker Valley. In an area of amazing and unforgettable landscapes we’ll look for Banded Dotterel and the extremely rare Black Stilt and will spend time searching known sites for latter.
Overnight - Lake Ohau
Days 15-16: We’ll travel to Fiordland National Park via the Lindis Pass. In the Eglinton Valley. we’ll bird its superb red beech forests for birds such as Yellowhead, Rifleman and Long-tailed Cuckoo. On Day 16 our journey to Milford Sound, will take us through an alpine habitat with boulder fields – home to the illusive Rock Wren and Kea.
Overnight - Te Anau
Days 17-18: Continue southwest to Invercargill and fly to the idyllic Stewart Island, for a two night stay. We’ll take a boat trip to Ulva Island for Weka, Yellowhead, Robin, Brown Creeper and Kaka. There will also be an evening excursion to seek out the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi feeding in the wild.
Overnights - Stewart Island
Day 19: Fly to Invercargill, and then travel through Dunedin to the Otago Peninsula.
Overnight - Otago Peninsula
Day 20: An afternoon cruise around Taiaroa Head, where the only mainland breeding site of Northern Royal Albatross is located. Here are also Spotted and Stewart Shags. There is also an opportunity to view Yellow eyedPenguins.
Overnight - Otago Peninsula
Day 21: Transfer to Dunedin Airport for the flight to Auckland and connect with the international flight to UK, where we arrive on Day 22.
Tour ref: AA1731
Tour Cost: £6,400
Single Room Supplement: £700
Leaders: Peter Scholes
Economy class scheduled return flights (UK-Auckland-UK), accommodation (based on twin occupancy), meals, transportation in New Zealand, reserve entrance fees and services of leaders.
Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.