May 2014: Wildlife Experiences

New Zealand offers visitors an exciting variety of wildlife experiences. In fact natural spectacles and unique wildlife encounters are two of New Zealand’s biggest draw-cards.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin, Dunedin

Click here for a list of popular wildlife experiences in New Zealand. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand offer visitors the chance to see an array of bird life and marine mammals. However it can be argued that the South Island of New Zealand displays the most diverse range of wildlife experiences.

Whether your clients are wildlife enthusiasts or simply appreciate unique activities, New Zealand has a variety of experiences that are sure to please.

 

HAWKES BAY

Gannet Beach Adventures
Established in 1952, Gannet Beach Adventures has a long history of providing tours on a spectacular stretch of the Hawke’s Bay coastline, from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers.  Their unique and fun tour involves travel with vintage tractors and trailers on a comfortable four-hour adventure to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world.  The gannets may be the initial draw card for visitors, but they soon discover there is much more to the tour than the birds and the unique mode of transport. The fascinating geology of this area is the highlight for many visitors.
www.gannets.com

Gannet Safaris Overland Tour
Cape Kidnappers is the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world.  Visitors will see these amazing birds nesting, preening, flying and performing the famous recognition ritual “dance of the gannets”.  The round trip with our driver/guides, who have a very good knowledge of the gannets and the farm, takes three hours. Tours operate between September and April, departing daily at 9.30am and 1.30pm.
www.gannetsafaris.co.nz

 

WELLINGTON AND SURROUNDS

Seal Coast Safari
Your clients will connect with the ‘real New Zealand’ during their 3-hour Seal Coast Safari. To get to the ‘Seal Coast’ your clients will travel through private land, not accessible by the public, in powerful, off-road vehicles. See animals including ostriches, and often wild goats, and marvel at the snow-capped mountains of the South Island, wind turbines and views of Wellington. Twenty kilometers along the beach is Tongue Point – home to a colony of amazing New Zealand fur seals. Your clients will enjoy viewing the seals and take in the beauty of their natural habitat.
www.sealcoast.com

Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience
Zealandia is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Wellington. Hidden in a suburban valley, this project aims to return a 225 hectare section of bush to its pre-human state. Take a walk and hear the songs of the flourishing native bird population. Volunteer guides will help your clients make the most of their visit. The Zealandia By Night Tour is perfect for kiwi spotting.
www.visitzealandia.com

Pukaha Mount Bruce
Pukaha Mount Bruce is set in 940 hectares of reserve between Eketahuna and Masterton – approximately 1.5 hours drive from Wellington. Home to the internationally famous little white kiwi bird, Manukura, plus many other birds and wildlife such as our tuatara and eels. All entry fees go towards protecting Pukaha's precious wildlife. Spend a wonderful day at Pukaha - check out the Kiwi House with the movie theatre showing three short films about Pukaha. Check out the rata tree in the interactive gallery!
www.pukaha.org.nz

 

CANTERBURY

Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand's only vessel based whale watching company offering an exciting up-close encounter with the world's largest toothed predator the Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment at all times of the year. Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season visitors may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.

Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin, the Orca and is home to the world's smallest and rarest the Hector's. Kaikoura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of sea birds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrel and 7 types of Shearwater
www.whalewatch.co.nz

Wings Over Whales Kaikoura
This natural encounter allows visitors to see and experience the majestic Sperm Whale off the coast of Kaikoura. From our aircraft visitors can see the whales catching their breath before their next dive to the depths of the Kaikoura trench 1500 meters below. Flights are half hour in duration and include an informative commentary. The flights depart from our log cabin terminal at Kaikoura Airport 8 kilometers south of the township. We can cater for 2 or more visitors in a party and up to groups of 7 in one flight.
www.whales.co.nz

Dolphin Encounter – Kaikoura
Experience swimming with dolphins. Kaikoura's point of difference is the fact that the region has the highest success rate for locating the marine mammals and swimming with the dolphins than anywhere in New Zealand. Dusky dolphins can be located year round with pods numbering anywhere between 100 to 1000 dolphins. These enchanting and acrobatic dolphins will leave an impression that lasts a lifetime.
www.encounterkaikoura.co.nz

Akaroa Dolphins
Akaroa Dolphins accommodate a small number of guests, for a more intimate and personal cruise experience around this spectacular seascape including sea caves, high cliffs and volcanic rock formations. Akaroa Harbour is host to amazing bird life and sea mammals, including the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's dolphin, which your clients will undoubtedly experience on our cruise. Visitors should also see New Zealand fur seals, blue penguins, fascinating sea birds and marine salmon and paua farms.
www.akaroadolphins.co.nz
 

OAMARU

Blue Penguin Colony
Our Blue Penguins nest is close to town under the cliffs along the Historic Harbour foreshore. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is just beyond the Victorian Heritage Precinct. During the day penguins are not walking around on land, they are either out at sea fishing or hiding away in their nesting burrows. Our day tours take visitors behind the scenes into the penguins breeding area where they may see the penguins up close in their burrows. Look down into the top of 10 nesting boxes through viewing at the daytime viewing facility the 'blue wing'. In the evening visitors get to see the penguins arrive home from their days fishing, walk up the stony ramp and cross into the breeding colony.
www.penguins.co.nz
 

OTAGO

Royal Albatross Colony and Little Blue Penguins
Enjoy the views of huge Royal Albatross, with a three metre wing-span, in their natural habitat from the Richdale Observatory on Taiaroa Head; the only mainland breeding colony of the Northern Royal Albatross.  Tour the Albatross Centre and the historic disappearing guns. Discover Kororā, the Little Blue Penguin, the world's smallest penguin, in their natural habitat - scurrying up to their cliff-face burrows at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula. At dusk penguins come ashore and make their way to their nests where they feed their chicks or roost. Tours run daily.
www.albatross.org.nz

Elm Wildlife Tours
This multi-award winning, scheduled, daily, small group tour departs from Dunedin city in the mid-afternoon for wildlife 'hotspots'. The tour combines tourism and conservation in a symbiotic relationship and provides absolutely unrivalled viewing of estuarine and marine wildlife. Our knowledgeable guides will inform your clients of activity being viewed and visit places where the best possible viewing of Hooker's Sea lions, Yellow-eyed Penguins, Blue Penguins, a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and Royal Albatross can be had. A further 25-30 other estuarine and marine bird species are seen during the experience. Close up unobtrusive viewing from beach locations and strategically placed observation hides is guaranteed.
www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz
 

STEWART ISLAND

Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience
Your clients will journey in the footsteps of kiwi across Stewart Island to Mason Bay for an unforgettable experience. Cruise along primeval Freshwater River, then hike 15.5 kilometers to Mason Bay, through scrub country and tussock land. Look out for kiwi signs and learn about their unique features. Your clients will spend the night at Mason Bay hut and campsite. In the late evening listen out for kiwi calls as we creep about searching for kiwi.

Ruggedy Range also offer an Ulva Island birds and forest guided walk. Take a 10 minute boat ride to Ulva Island, watch penguins and shorebirds when present. Walk well-formed tracks at an easy pace, through the picturesque rainforest across lovely beaches. View ferns, mosses and wild orchids in season. Enjoy close views of rare and endangered birds, listen to exquisite birdsong. Your clients will learn interesting facts about New Zealand’s birds, plants, ecology, Maori foods and medicines. Visitors will also gain a unique insight into New Zealand’s fascinating natural history and evolution.
www.ruggedyrange.com

Stewart Island Experience
Discover diverse marine species above and below the waterline during this 2.5 hour cruise excursion. Depart on our catamaran and explore the coastal area adjacent to Halfmoon Bay and the Titi Islands. Later transfer to our semi-submersible (Mollymawk) to view Stewart Island's rich marine life below the waterline including kelp forests and fish species. Keep a look out for penguins, dolphins and albatross and other wildlife including seals and Great White Sharks.
www.stewartislandexperience.co.nz