5 birds we regularly see on our NZ nature tours
Taking a nature tour in New Zealand is like taking multiple different tours at once. You get to enjoy the scenery, as well as the huge variety of wildlife that you might not see anywhere else in the world, not to mention the incredible plantlife in New Zealand.
Our NZ eco tours are in fact very popular with birders – and anyone simply interested in birds – as we regularly see rare and endemic species during our trips. Here are just five birds that we often see on Tawharanui day and night tours.
A rare sight, but an impressive one, the saddleback is one of the country’s most distinctive birds. Also known as the tieke, the saddleback is easily identified by its jet black feathers across most of its body, and burnt orange hue across its back and wattle.
The Tawharanui Regional Park is one of just five fenced sanctuaries in New Zealand where you might spot this rare species.
A bellbird is a common sight throughout New Zealand, but you will be more likely to hear this stunning songbird before you spot one. They are known for their distinctive ringing notes, and you can expect to hear them everywhere from forestland to parks and urban gardens.
To spot on, look for a small olive green bird that’s darker about the head and fast in flight.
3. Brown teal (Pateke)
The brown teal is endemic to New Zealand, and is the rarest waterfowl species on the mainland with somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 birds living in the wild. While they were once widespread, it is now rare to see one, and Tawharanui is one of the few places left where you might be lucky enough to make a sighting.
Both the males and females are a dark brown colour with a white eye ring and dark grey bill.
The Takahe is a gorgeous example of the power of conservation. This endemic bird was once thought to be extinct, until an Invercargill doctor rediscovered the species in the grasslands of Fiordland in 1948. Today, there are just over 300 known takahe in New Zealand, and that number is slowly growing.
You’ll spot the takahe for its royal blue hue with olive green wings and bright red beak.
The kiwi is arguably New Zealand’s most famous bird, and also one of the hardest to spot. There are roughly 70,000 around the country, but as they are a nocturnal, flightless bird, you will only see them in the wild if you know just where to look – and just what to look for.
We spot kiwis on roughly 70 per cent of our NZ nature tours to Tawharanui, and our experienced guides are exceptionally skilled at finding this shy and quiet icon.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist