Experience New Zealand’s native birds and nature first hand with small group tours of the South Island.
Hear the call of a New Zealand native Tui echo in the valley. Be enthralled as a fantail flits about the bush at arms length. Watch the penguins march ashore in south Dunedin. Regenerate in restorative thermal waters. Experience New Zealand’s abundant natural resources with a local kiwi guide, understand native birds, flora and fauna, explore the land and be part of protecting it all for future generations.
- Lake Daniel overnight hike into Maruia Waka Huia special biodiversity area which is a time capsule of what New Zealand once was. Staying in a New Zealand Department of conservation Hut.
- Look out for the most endangered wading bird in the world the black stilts/kakī, and the unique Wrybill
- Watch the Yellow-Eyed Penguins march ashore along Dunedin’s Coast
- Searching for glow worms and listening to the rain on an iron roof
- Taiaroa heads Royal Albatross viewing tour. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy the privilege of viewing the world’s largest sea bird in their natural environment.
- Makarora will appeal to those who appreciate joyous bird song, mountain spring water,
- Kiwi breeding programme in Franz Josef, the White Heron Sanctuary in Whataroa and Kiwi in the wild at Okarito.
- Albatross Encounter with our local experts in Kaikoura out on the Pacific Ocean.
- Breakfast of your choice every morning.
- Comfortable and luxury accommodation.
South Island Active Tour ITINERARY
Kia Ora and welcome to Christchurch, where your locally based tour guide will meet you at Christchurch Airport. Enjoy time time to relax before we depart at midday in the spacious Kakariki tour vehicle, a 2015 Mercedes Tour Van.
We head south, through the stunning McKenzie Country towards Lake Tekapo, where we stop for two days. Admire the snow-capped Southern Alps, glacial lakes, restore your body from travelling in the natural hot springs and gaze at the bright night sky; Tekapo is the home of the biggest dark-sky reserve in the world.
On our first day, we guide you to the shores of many magical lakes and streams, where you will also visit the Black Stilt centre and hide. The centre runs a restoration programme and saved the Black Stilt from extinction. You will see a host of wading and wetland birds, which may include:
- NZ Shovelers / Kuruwhengi
- The rare Crested Grebe
- Mallard Duck
- Canadian Geese
- Black-fronted Terns / Tarapirohe
- Black Stilts / Kakī – The most endangered wading bird in the world the black stilts/kakī
- The unique Wrybill
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- 2 nights at Lake Tekapo’s Peppers Blue Water Resort, staying in a deluxe lake view Hotel room.
- The Church of the good Shepherd
- Tekapo hot springs
- Ice rink (seasonal)
- Helicopter snow landings
- Star gazing tours available
From Tekapo we make our way to the city of Dunedin, situated on the Otago Peninsula. Known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital, Dunedin and its surrounds will be our base for the next 2 days.Jutting out into the South Pacific Ocean the Otago peninsula is a rugged and picturesque spot with tall cliffs surrounding secluded coves and towering over white sand beaches.
Watch the Yellow-Eyed Penguin march ashore in the evening and the Royal Albatross glide overhead. Dolphins, Whales, Seals and other marine mammals are often seen from the peninsula.
On day 3, we head off to Taiaroa Heads for a Royal Albatross viewing tour. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy the privilege of viewing the world’s largest sea bird in their natural environment.
- Other birds commonly encountered at Taiaroa Heads are the:
- Little Blue Penguin
- Giant Petrol
- Little Black Shag
- Eastern Bar Tailed Godwit
- Buller’s Albatross
- Many other species
As evening falls we visit the Yellow Eyed Penguin hide and geta personalised tour. You’ll get to understand their behaviour and experience their habitat with expert knowledge from a guide.
Visit the Orokonui ecosanctuary on day 4, home of some of New Zealand’s rarest birds, reptiles and plants and the most protected forest in the South Island. We’ll take a guided walk through the native podocarp forest and if we’re lucky we may spot Kiwi, Takahe or the South Island Saddleback. Also ;
- Brown Creeper
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- 2 nights accommodation on Dunedin’s waterfront at Hotel St Clair in a Luxury studio suite. Food not included however bakeries, cafes, supermarkets, bars & restaurants meals are available close by.
OTHER LOCAL DUNEDIAN ATTRACTIONS
- Take a walk along St. Clair Beach, a vibrant, cosmopolitan esplanade right near our accommodation and just ten minutes from the city.
- Dunedin Botanic Garden and Larnach Castle Garden
- The Cadbury Chocolate Factory
- Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street – so steep it takes about 10 minutes to walk about 350 metres!
Situated on the Haast Pass Highway, Makarora is the gateway to the Mt Aspiring World Heritage Area. Home to dramatic mountains, abundant birdlife and alpine vegetation, Makarora shows how New Zealand would have looked to the first people of the land and early settlers.
Listen to joyous birdsong as we take a guided walk through lush rainforest to the glacier fed azure coloured Blue Pools and Thunder Falls. A place of restoration and historical significance, Makarora is amongst the world’s foremost natural landscapes, home to the rare and elusive Yellow Head (Mohua), you may also see:
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- A Nights accommodation at Makarora A Frames set amongst native forest at the Makarora Tourism centre. Food not included. Café and bar close by serves breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and bar snacks.
- Tramping and walking tracks with options from 5mins to 3-4hr return
- Hunting & fishing
- Scenic flights (helicopter and fixed wing)
- Jet boat rides
We travel from Makarora to the picturesque settlement of Franz Josef, nestled beneath it’s namesake, the Franz Josef Glacier. Flowing from the Southern Alps, through to the lush rainforest of Westland’s National Park, the Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded one of the most impressive sites to be found anywhere in the world. Here we spend time visiting the White Heron Sanctuary, a successful kiwi-breeding programme in Whataroa and get a magical close up encounter with our famous Kiwi in the wild at Okarito.
We get up close to New Zealand’s iconic, flightless bird, the Kiwi during the Okarito Kiwi night tour. You’ll learn how to interpret the Kiwi’s call and explore the Maori myths and legends as to why the kiwi is a ground dweller. The Okarito tour is the only night tour in the forests of South Westland.
On Day 7 we take a short drive 25 minute drive to the coastal town of Okarito before kayaking through the peaceful Okarito Lagoon (boat option also available). Home to New Zealand’s largest unmodified coastal wetland, you’ll be able to spot a host of wading, sea and native forest birds. And on a clear day you’ll be able to see Mount Cook and the Southern Alps.
Birds present in the lagoon includ:
- Oyster Catcher
- Banded Rail
Before driving back to Franz Josef meet New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, the Rowi, with a backstage pass to the West Coast Wildlife Centre. You’ll get a first hand, behind the scenes look at the hatching and incubation programme of New Zealand’s rarest Kiwi’s, the Okarito Kiwi.
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- 2 nights accommodation at the Rainforest retreat in tree house/hut . Many eating options Bakery’s, cafes, supermarkets and restaurants meals available. Food not included
- Restore weary bones with a soak in the lovely hot pools
- Visit Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier, which provides stunning reflections and views of Aoraki/Mt Cook NZ’s largest mountain.
- The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most accessible in the world; it’s an easy short walk to the base of this magnificent natural wonder. Take a guided glacier hike, ride a quad bike, fly in a helicopter or even take a tandem skydive.
Take in the dramatic limestone sculptures, coastline and mountain ranges in the small township of Punakaiki. Situated on the spectacular and wild Paparoa National Park coastline, a visit to the world renowned pancake rocks and blowhole is not to be missed. Marvel at the pancake like stacks of rock and dodge the spray shooting up from the rocks’ ‘blowhole’ every few minutes.
Here in Punakaiki we enjoy a guided evening birdwatching tour, viewing the Westland Petrol (Tiako). Endemic to New Zealand, the birds spend their days out at sea and migrate back to shore in great flocks every evening to rest.
Bird species commonly found in Punakaiki include:
- Westland Petrol (Tiako)
- Black Robin
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- One night’s accommodation at Punakaiki Resort. These luxury suites are eco-friendly with ocean and/or rainforest views. The suites have been designed and built to have minimal impact on the environment. Food is not included.
- Trout Fishing
Lake Daniel is within the Maruia Waka Huia special biodiversity area which is a time capsule of what New Zealand once was. Keeping the many rare wildlife and plant species of the Maruia area safe from introduced predators requires a massive conservation effort which the department of conservation is undertaking. Lake Daniels is a beautiful and easy walk of 2.5 hours. It is a well-maintained track and of little incline.
Guided walk to lake Daniels. On the track and at the lake you may encounter Tomtit, Rifleman, Robin, Tui, Fernbird, Silvereye, Grey Warbler, Bellbird, and even Kaka or Kakariki.
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION
- Acommodation is at D.O.C Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut (sleeps 24). Food included we will be discussed with everyone on tour to best suite every ones needs. This is the real kiwi backcountry experience into the wilderness of the South Island.
- Meditation – Check this link and listen to the sounds of Lake Daniels
- Trout Fishing
Caught between the rugged Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura is a spectacular setting for our final days on tour. Snowcapped mountains dominate the vista in winter and in summer the sparkling ocean seems to stretch on forever.
World renowned for it’s wildlife encounters, whales, fur seals, dolphins and seabirds all live permanently in and around the coastal waters.
Our local experts take you out on the water for the ultimate Albatross Encounter. Get up close with a diverse array of seabirds including Penguins, Petrels, Shearwaters, Shags, Terns, Plovers, and Gulls. It’s common to see Dolphins, Seals and occasionally Whales during this boat tour, all of which have their natural habitat within a close proximity of the Kaikoura Peninsula.
At the end of our day each person will have the opportunity to leave their mark in New Zealand by planting a native tree on the Kaikoura peninsula looking out over the Pacific Ocean. What better excuse to return to New Zealand in a few years time than to see how your own tree is faring!
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
- A night’s accommodation at the 5 star White Morph (premium studio). Food not included
- Whale watching trips leave the town several times a day
- The local seal colony is always entertaining and easily accessible.
- There are plenty of cafés, restaurants and shops to explore.
- Swim with dolphins and fur seals with guided tours daily from town
Meals: Breakfast and afternoon tea on all days!
Transport: Private Mercedes tour vehicle!
Accommodation: 2 night at the 5star St Clair hotel + 1 night at the 5 star White Morph hotel in Premium Spa room + 2 nights at 4.5 star Peppers Blue Waters resort + 2 nights at the 4star Rainforest Retreat + 1 night at the Punakaiki resort in luxury eco-suite +1 night real NZ wilderness stay in Department of conservation hut + 1 night in wilderness A-frame chalet!
Included Activities: Private New Zealand local guide
Visits to the Black Stilt centre, Dunedin Royal Albortross colony, the Orokonui eco-sanctuary, Penguin Place evening guided tour, the Okarito Kiwi night tour, Franz Josef wildlife centre , Okarito power boat or kayak trip, Kaikoura Albatross encounter on the Pacific Ocean. Many other private wonderful short walks and talks , Binoculars , walking poles and umbrellas provided.