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New Zealand's Natural History

Tour Code: NZL02

A 22-day experience of the unique and characterful birds, wildlife and scenery of New Zealand, from marshland to rainforest and from snow-capped mountains to the sea.

22 days from £7795(inc flights) Land Only Price: £6995 SRS: £995

Beginning in Auckland, North Island, we’ll first focus on observing migratory, endemic and rare birds of the west coast before heading to the central plateau to a podocarp forest in search of birds, insects and plants. Crossing to South Island we now explore the waters of Malborough Sounds before heading to Kaikoura for a pelagic trip and from there we go over Arthur’s Pass and down the wild, wet west coast! During our day exploring Mount Cook National Park we’ll look for the rare Black Stilt among other wildlife, before spending two nights on pristine Stewart Island, where Kaka, Weka, Bellbird and parakeets will be among our finds! Visits to Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound and Dunedin ensure plenty more highlights on this packed tour before it’s time to return home.

  • Watch Australasian Gannets soaring in to their scattered rock colonies
  • Saddleback, Stitchbird, Little-spotted Kiwi & Takahe on Tiritiri Matanagi Island
  • Listen for the haunting call of the Kokako in the rainforest at Pureora
  • Visit spectacular Tongariro, a place of great significance to the Maori people
  • Encounter albatrosses, shearwaters & petrels crossing Cook Strait to South Island
  • Sperm Whale, Hector’s & Dusky Dolphins, plus seabirds on boat trip from Kaikoura
  • Look for rare Westland Black Petrel & Fjordland Crested Penguin
  • Visit Mount Cook National Park & enjoy Fiordland’s stunning glaciated scenery
  • Watch Brown Kiwis on Stewart Island, plus Shy Albatross & Yellow-eyed Penguins
  • Look for Yellowhead, Kea & Rock Wren, near Milford Sound


All included in the price.


A range of quality hotels, motels and lodges, generally with private facilities, except on Tiritiri Matangi Island where accommodation is basic, with shared facilities.

Wandering Albatross (Steve Wakeham)

Wandering Albatross (Steve Wakeham)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1/2 Depart London/in flight

Day 3 Auckland

Day 4 Tiri Tiri Matangi Island

Day 5 Miranda Wildlife Sanctuary, Rotorua & Taupo

Day 6 Pureora Forest Park

Day 7 Tongariro National Park

Day 8 Kapiti Island

Day 9 Cook Strait & Picton

Day 10 Marlborough Sounds

Day 11 Kaikoura

Day 12 Arthur's Pass & Hokitika

Day 13 Westland National Park

Day 14 Fox Glacier/Lake Moeraki

Day 15 Lake Ohau

Day 16/17 Stewart Island

Day 18/19 Fiordland National Park & World Heritage area

Day 20 Dunedin

Day 21 Depart Dunedin

Day 22 Arrive London

Tucked away in the southern rim of the Pacific, New Zealand is a land with an enchanting and refreshing nature. Whilst a morning may be greeted high in majestic mountain valleys by hearing the discreet scuttle of a skink beneath alpine shrubs, the afternoon may be spent on the sea, watching gliding albatrosses and porpoising fur seals.

New Zealand has a very rich and intriguing natural heritage which, when explored in the context of the beauty of the forests, mountains, coasts and wildlife, cannot help but captivate. The native birds, other wildlife and plants are diverse and unique, having evolved without the influence of land mammals since the island’s isolation from Gondwana. Many, though, have become extinct or threatened since the arrival of humans and their accompanying menagerie of animal and plant pests. However, these threats have strengthened the nation’s present-day commitment to conservation, deepening both the locals’s and visitors’s appreciation of this relatively clean, spacious country and its very special wildlife.

Our natural history journey begins in Auckland, an area characterised by water, volcanoes and islands. On the west coast we will watch Australasian Gannets soaring in towards their scattered rock outcrop colonies. Within a few hours’s drive we will be on the east coast, observing congregations of migratory and endemic birds feeding on the silt flats of Miranda. We will also enjoy a visit to picturesque Tiritiri Matangi Island, to enjoy the fullness of birdsong in regenerating forest, including that of such reintroduced rarities as the Saddleback, Stitchbird, Whitehead, Little-spotted Kiwi and Takahe.

The central plateau of the North Island will share geothermal secrets with us as we walk through a valley of boiling mud and water at Waimangu, and in a podocarp rainforest at Pureora. In the mist at the break of dawn we may be lucky to hear the haunting call of the endangered Kokako, and encounter a diversity of other birds, insects and plant species. Not far away is Tongariro, New Zealand’s first national park and a place of great spiritual significance to the indigenous Maori people. The park offers us a wonderful perspective of these volcanic landscapes, and the conservation issues that affect the area, as we walk amongst a subalpine flora and enjoy the spectacular mountain backdrop. Kapiti Island lies off the west coast, near Wellington and is home to a wide range of endemic rarities. During a special night on the island, we will seek out the endangered Little-spotted Kiwi and look for the native owl, the Morepork (or Ruru) while enjoying further close encounters with Kaka and, possibly, Takahe.

On the way to the South Island, we may encounter species of albatross, shearwater and petrel, as well as dolphins, in Cook Strait. Then we will explore the waters of the Marlborough Sounds aboard a private charter vessel, before travelling further down the coast to Kaikoura, where snow-capped mountains reach to the sea. Here we will venture offshore once again, in search of Sperm Whales, Hector’s and Dusky Dolphins, and a fine selection of seabirds.

Our journey now takes us over the main divide via Arthur’s Pass, a route once used by the Maori people. We will then travel down the wild and wet west coast, beneath avenues of lush green rainforest, searching for the rare Westland Black Petrel, the Great White Egret and Fiordland Crested Penguin in their natural habitats. The contrast of the west to the vast rolling Otago landscape of schist rock, tussock land and clear turquoise lakes, is striking. Next we will head for the heights and grandeur of Mount Cook National Park, and walk amongst alpine vegetation alive with clicking crickets as we search for the rare Black Stilt. Two nights on the almost pristine Stewart Island will allow us time to watch the Brown Kiwi in its natural environment, as well as the Kaka, Weka, Bellbird and parakeets. At sea fly a number of seabirds, including Shy Albatrosses and Fairy Prions, and in Paterson Inlet we may see shags, rare Yellow-eyed Penguins and dolphins. Back on the mainland, we will then be enticed by the glacially sculptured mountains and valleys of Fiordland National Park. The drive through to Milford Sound offers spectacular scenery as well as opportunities to seek out some unique endemic bird species, including the Yellowhead, Kea and Rock Wren; an optional boat cruise along the fiord, beneath its steep cliffs and waterfalls is awe-inspiring.

Finally we arrive in Dunedin, the ‘wildlife capital’s, where we will cruise around Taiaroa Head, the only mainland breeding site of the Northern Royal Albatross. With a wingspan of three metres, these seabirds are certainly impressive as they soar over cliffs dotted with nests of Spotted Shags and the rare Stewart Island Shags. Cruising on, past rocky shelves of lounging New Zealand Fur Seals, we will sail back down the harbour, towards the city. A magical way indeed to draw to a close our rich and diverse discovery of New Zealand’s wildlife treasures.

Mount Cook (Steve Wakeham)Paterson Inlet  (Mark Schofield)Taupo Craters (Steve Wakeham)Otago Peninsula (Steve Wakeham)Muriwai Beach (Steve Wakeham)Lake Pukaki (Mark Schofield)Mount Sefton (Steve Wakeham)Milford Sound (Steve Wakeham)Lindis Pass (Steve Wakeham)Lake Ohau (Steve Wakeham)Royal Albatross (Ron Marshall)Milford Sound (Steve Wakeham)Sperm Whale (Mark Schofield)Pied Shag (Ron Marshall)Salvins Albatross (Ron Marshall)Westland Petrel (Ron Marshall)Grey Warbler (Ron Marshall)Australasian Gannets (Mark Schofield)Whitehead (Ron Marshall)Waimangu volcanic valley (Mark Schofield)Fiordland National ParkMitre PeakWekaAustralasian Gannet ColonyFur SealsLake RotoruaLittle Spotted KiwiMarlborough SoundsMoreporkNotornis, South IslandParadise ShelduckRoyal SpoonbillShining CuckooShy AlbatrossYellow-eyed Penguin
The whole of the holiday, wildlife, and scenery, and the easy going, not rushed and the most friendly and easy going leaders and fellow travellers.
Mr & Mrs B
The itinerary was very good and the guides excellent. Their knowledge and enthusiasm made the trip.
Naturetrek have got it 100% right. The whole holiday worked very well. I cannot speak more highly of the whole trip and the way it was organised and delivered.
Mr and Mrs R
Extremely well organised. Both leaders knowledge of the birds, flora, fauna and history of New Zealand made the trip thoroughly enjoyable. They didn't mind how many times we asked questions, sometimes the same ones! Trip of a lifetime.
This holiday was wonderful - we went to such amazing places and saw such amazing things - both wildlife and scenery.
Our tour leaders made a great team, their knowledge supplementing one another's. They were charming and friendly and always helpful when asked. Some of the best leaders I have travelled with; and this is doubly important when the trip is a long one, as this was.
I loved this holiday - my first with Naturetrek. The itinerary was ideal for me. I was so attracted by it on your website last November that I booked it immediately. I liked the concept of covering areas included by other operators, while visiting less known scenic, wildlife areas. I particularly wanted to visit Stewart Island, and Tiritiri Matangi was a bonus. The boat trips and the night and early morning walks were highlights. The three leaders were exceptionally knowledgeable, energetic, enthusiastic and good communicators, and made the holiday a wonderful learning experience; ideal for a first visit to New Zealand. All of my previous group holidays have been walking holidays, but this experience has inspired me to convert, at least partially, to wildlife holidays. Many thanks for a memorable holiday.
Attentive, knowledgeable, enthusiastic tour leaders with a great sense of humour!
Mark was excellent in all ways. His knowledge of the birds and flora was superb and he ensured we saw as much as possible. His organisation of lunches, especially picnic lunches was also superb.
Mr & Mrs H.
We both thoroughly enjoyed the holiday, and were most impressed by the organisation. The guides could not have been more helpful and informative and we learnt a great deal about the country as well as its wonderful wildlife.
This was a superb trip and so much of the success was due to your local agents and the local knowledge and organisation of Mark and Geoff, the 2 leaders. We saw so much and learnt so much about New Zealand in those 3 weeks…everyday highlighted something new.
The tour leaders gave us so much information about New Zealand as we travelled. They were so knowledgeable about the animals and plants, it was fantastic.
P. & B.J.
The holiday surpassed all our expectations...The arrangements made for our holiday extension were excellent. Many thanks for a wonderful experience.
A first class trip in every respect. The itinerary was well thought out, the tour well balanced, Wynston Cooper proved to be an excellent tour leader and the company was good. What more could I have asked for? ... All that remains is to decide next years destination.
Thank you for a very good holiday which gave such a variety of activities and sites while seeing the endemic bird species. Wynston Cooper was especially interesting from his career background in conservation.
Trip of a lifetime... well worth it.
A very enjoyable trip. Naturetrek provided an excellent tour of New Zealand and we saw and learnt about all sorts of Flora and Fauna. I have been doing bird and nature tours for 15 years or more and this trip to New Zealand was the most comprehensive and interesting trip. An excellent tour.
Tyne & Wear
A fantastic holiday, well up to my expectations.
East Sussex
Our leaders were so good; Paul Dukes did splendidly spotting birds, carrying cases, loading luggage etc and seeing us safely to and from New Zealand.
Thank you for a good holiday.
Dr & Mrs A.G.
We enjoyed the trip and appreciated the efforts of both the local leaders and Cliff in finding the birds.
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Sun 28th October 2018 - Sun 18th November 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6995 More info

Room sharing options: Male sharing is available More info

Tue 29th October 2019 - Tue 19th November 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: New Zealand

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Paul Stanbury
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

The whole of the holiday, wildlife, and scenery, and the easy going, not rushed and the most friendly and easy going leaders and fellow travellers.
D.F., Kent