New Zealand wildlife and Maori culture

Old Sep 12th, 2023, 12:26 PM
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New Zealand wildlife and Maori culture

Delta is opening new routes and I convinced my husband to grab the low fare and take a (always too short) trip to New Zealand in early December. I've visited various parts of the islands on short vacations tacked onto business trips, but my husband has never been. I'd like to share some of my favorite experiences with him, but also try something new--and we won't have the time to get to all my far flung favorites. So I'd love some advice based on your experience with these aspects of the trip. I know the options are geographically scattered. I am going to narrow down the "musts" for our trip and work around those.

Kiwi--I had a wonderful experience on Kapiti Island. Saw kiwi with the guide and also allowed to look around the grounds and see one that was hanging around. Options seem to be Kapiti Island, Stewart Island or I've seen Okarito Kiwi Tour on the west coast of SI mentioned. I saw the comment that weather could be uncertain around Stewart early spring--so risky to travel all that way to be weathered out? Anyone have experience with Okarito?

Penguins and albatross--Another fun experience with Elm from Dunedin. Enjoyed watching from hide. Also saw penguin boxes near Akaroa. I've since seen larger penguin colonies in Australia and South Africa, so I think we will skip this time.

Glow worms--Great boat/cave trip from Te Anau. Such a weird experience lying down in the boat with the glowing on the roof of the cave. Also lucked out with good weather so the ride back across the lake in the dark gave us a star filled sky. Anyone been to Charlestown glow worm cave? Any reason to go to Waitomo Caves other than if fit itinerary better? I am thinking the Terrace Walk mentioned near the glaciers with glow worms in tree stumps and along the stream or the Hokitka's glow worm dell would not have the same impact.

Has anyone visited the gannett colony at Cape Kidnappers? (I think I just want an excuse to visit Napier for the Art Deco architecture.)

Maori culture and performance--I remember that Te Papa Tongarewa museum was interesting. I don't know if I have been to the Auckland War Memorial museum and how it compares.
I enjoyed the cultural show I saw at Te Puia and at Waitangi. I didn't care as much for another place I visited in Rotorua. I see the Auckland museum also has a show. My thought is whichever performance fits in the itinerary.
I see in some places there are Maori offering private cultural tours to learn more about their history and community. I'd have to look further into those.

Thanks in advance. It's good to see so many of the experts active on the Forums. I've been remiss in participating on Fodor's as my return to traveling after the pandemic was delayed by back injury/surgery. My hikes must still be shorter and less strenuous than before, but it's great to be back on the road/in the air.

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Old Sep 12th, 2023, 12:37 PM
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Anyone have experience with Okarito?

We'd booked this tour one year but had to cancel due to weather, which I still regret (September). We've visited Stewart Island too, but didn't see any kiwis there or on the visit to Ulva Island. Only Kiwis I've seen were in the National Kiwi Center in Hokitika. They're pretty elusive and if you see them in the wild consider yourself very lucky.

Enjoy your planning!
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Old Sep 12th, 2023, 05:36 PM
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Don't recommend the Okarito one. Stewart Island airport is reliable. Book a tour. Or Marsden Cross on North Island.

Gannets at Muriwai easy.

See my trip report in that time frame.

Kea viewing in Arthurs Pass?

Last edited by mlgb; Sep 12th, 2023 at 05:39 PM.
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Old Sep 13th, 2023, 03:12 PM
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Thanks for the replies.
I was able to search previous posts and trip reports on computer today much better than on ipad. That was quite a NZ birding trip last year, mlgb. You mention yet another location for me to consider.

I think maybe I saw the kea on the way to Milford Sound?
I know I saw a variety of birds on Kapiti Island during the day. I always like seeing the takahe.
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Old Sep 24th, 2023, 10:19 AM
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There is superb aquatic wildlife too. Kaikoura , South Island , about three hours drive from Christchurch , is one of the worlds great whale watching spots. . I once read that they claim a 95 per cent chance of seeing whales on one of their boats ! I’ve been twice , seen whales on both occasions

Akaroa , about 90 mins from Christchurch by road , has a spectacular harbour in an ancient volcanic caldera , and is the place to see Hectors Dolphin , the worlds smallest species of ocean going dolphin . The township is beautiful , too , with an interesting history of French as well as British culture , if that’s the right phrase. Dolphin spotting boats go from the pier.

Auckland does dolphin spotting too , common dolphins. I think whales visit Auckland in the southern winter , but I saw lots of dolphins on a summer cruise from Viaduct Harbour , in the city centre . I remember dolphins surfing in the wake of the boat.! It was a warm day , so lots of energy for dolphin play

I’m sure you will enjoy Aotearoa ! Have a great time

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Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 11:12 AM
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Aquatic wildlife

Thanks for aquatic advice. I did the Akaroa boat and saw the dolphins. Nice day on the water.

I've had amazing whale watching experiences off Kenai Peninsula, Alaska and in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, but disappointing trips off California. It does really pay to go at local peak season and where numbers usually high.

We will probably try Kapiti again. I see the high winds have been stopping ferries and boats recently so will hope for better weather in December. Will probably go to Napier and maybe the gannet colony as arrival jetlag destination.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 11:47 AM
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Kay2, yes you could have seen the Kea while waiting to enter the tunnel to get to Milford Sound.

There is no way to know what the weather will be like. We had rain nearly every day except on the rainy West Coast!!

Have you been toTiritiri Matangi Island? We missed out due to bad weather and ferry cancellation.

If you haven't been out on Albatross Encounter from Kaikoura, that is a specialist birding boat.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 3rd, 2023 at 11:54 AM.
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