The pros and con of touring in winter
As we approach winter in New Zealand, some people are struggling with the decision of whether or not to book in a day tour from Auckland given the weather and the possibility of a cooler day or rain.
If that’s you, take a look at our list of pros (and one con) when it comes to our nature tours through winter, and see if the trip is worth it for yourself!
First of all, the term ‘winter’ doesn’t mean quite the same thing in Auckland as it does anywhere else in the country. If you take a look at a map, you’ll notice that the City of Sails isn’t much further south than Sydney, and if you take a look at a weather forecast, you’ll see that the average low in Auckland is still double digits at around 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit). While that’s certainly cooler than summer, it’s still far from freezing. Plus, as we do some walking on our tours, the movement helps keep you that much warmer, too.
For the birders, it will be important to note that our local birds don’t go anywhere during winter. Our tours to Tawharanui, for example, are still packed with many of our favourite species.
Another of the big benefits of a tour during winter is that there are far fewer tourists around. New Zealand’s busiest travel season is through summer, so if you’re visiting anywhere in the country (apart from the skifields) during the colder months, you’ll likely have the place just to yourselves, or at least with hardly anyone else around.
For another pro, consider a tour during winter something completely different. Many people may take this time to stay still or visit indoor attractions such as museums. Why not take this opportunity to get off the beaten track (literally) and do something new during winter? As well as this, a tour where you get out and walk for part of the experience is a great way to fit some extra exercise into the winter months, as usually this is when our fitness levels drop as we stay indoors more often.
The only con: Alright, so you might encounter a day where Auckland sees some rain or is on the cold side. The answer to that is simply to rug up warm and wear your wet-weather gear. Because, as you can see from all the pros above, it’s really still worth going! That said, a lovely sunny day on tour is also wonderful, so perhaps you can catch us during summer, too!
Of course, it’s entirely possible that even though you book a tour for winter, you might still catch a sunny day in Auckland for the experience!
New Zealand winters run through June, July and August, and Habitat Tours take visitors out to see our wonderful flora and fauna throughout this time, rain or shine.
Bird of the month: The weka
The New Zealand weka is a small flightless bird that could be confused for a kiwi to the untrained eye. This month, we’ve chosen the weka as our bird of the month!
Here’s a little more about this sweet little bird that will help you learn more about it and perhaps even identify one if you see a weka in the wild.
This fantastic native species can be found in sub-alpine grassland areas, forests, sand dunes and even rocky shore areas around the coastline. They’re known to have cheeky natures, and will take the chance to steal food and/or shiny objects from you if you’re not careful.
As mentioned, the weka can look similar to the iconic kiwi. While they are shades of brown, small and flightless, the main giveaways are their size as they are larger than the kiwi, and their beaks, as they are short unlike the kiwi. And in fact, they are much closer to the banded rail species, which is considered their closest relative.
You might hear one before you see one, as they have a characteristic ‘coo-eet’ call that you’ll usually hear at dawn then again half an hour after sunset.
There are a number of spots around New Zealand where you might see a weka in the wild, such as on the Russell Peninsula, in Kawakawa Bay, in the Marlborough Sound, in Fiordland and on a number of islands around the country. They face threats such as predation and droughts and are listed as being ‘nationally vulnerable’.
Finally, the weka will eat pretty much anything it can find! This includes everything from insects and slugs to lizards, mice, small birds as well as berries and seeds.
As the weka don’t live around Auckland, we don’t tend to see them on our nature tours. However, you will still see plenty of other exciting New Zealand birds on a Tawharanui tour from Auckland!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist