NZ Sandflies

Old Mar 4th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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NZ Sandflies

Are these seasonal? Should I worry about them in South Island in 2nd half of April? If yes - what is recommended?

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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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I am very interested in replies to this question too, as we are spending two weeks on the SI in March.
I get severe bites from Midges (tiny flying insects) here in Australia, so I think I am in for some fun in NZ......
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 09:19 PM
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Our experience is that sandflies are not seasonal, they are around wherever it is wet, particularly along the southwest coast of the S. Island (i.e. Fiordland). They can be really miserable, particuarly if there are swarms of them. It is worst at dusk and dawn, but even in the middle of the day, they can be pretty bad on beaches or shorelines.

If you are well-prepared, you should be OK. I prefer typical insect repellents, with large % of DEET, but that stuff can be pretty nasty. Some Kiwis I know, swear by the more-natural product, 'Botanica' Insect Repellent, which we have tried, and works, but not, IMO, as well as traditional DEET repellents. Also, wearing long clothing and a hat helps.

The good news is that if you head inland, even just a few km, you are usually free of the little buggers.
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Old Mar 4th, 2007, 10:55 PM
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Hi We have just completed our family trip to NZ (SI) so the subject of sandflies is close to my heart ?? see my trip report

My understanding is that they diminish somewhat after dark and in the cold but i dont know how cold it has to get to be rid of them.

They are obviously more numerous around the water -lakes and fiords.

We were advised to buy our repellent in the pharmacy in Te Anau -the recommended one was called Ultraguard (around $16 NZ)
We were told to apply every 2 or so hours -particularly around the ankles, arms and cheeks/neck. This combined with long sleeves,socks and even trousers tucked into shoes seems to offer the best protection. we also sprayed outside our clothes.

Once we were on the water cruising the Sound they seemed not to bother us.

like a good scout -be prepared and enjoy!
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Old Mar 5th, 2007, 02:29 AM
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If you are going anywhere near the Manapouri Power Station (Near Te Anau) You will definitely need sandfly protection. The place is absolutely infested. The only good thing is that in Asia the sandflies are so small they are difficult to see, but the sandflies at the Power Station are monstrous and easy to spot and swot.
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Old Mar 9th, 2007, 05:09 AM
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When we were there in January they were horrible around the Blue Pools (near Haast Pass)
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Old Nov 25th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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Got bitten quite badly on the car park at Milford Sound. It was ok once you were out on the water but the damage was already done.

I was talking to an Aussie who had hiked the Milford Trail and he was badly bitten even though he thought he'd covered up sufficiently well.

The other place where I got bitten by sandflies was Haast.

I have been bitten by mossies, midges and cat fleas but these little perishers are the worst I've experienced. Some of the bites around my wrists and ankles were still itching a couple of weeks after we arrived home and I've still got the scars to prove it 5 years on.

Just make sure you cover up at Milford Sound before you emerge from the car. (We went in December, the weather was quite hot)
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Old Nov 27th, 2007, 10:27 PM
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There's been volumes written about sandflies, but here's a quick recap.
They are not actually SAND flies, in that they don't live in or on the sand. They are actually BUSH flies, and you will find them anywhere there is native bush. The reason you find them near beaches is that the beach is usually backed by native bush. They breed in decaying vegitation and by streams.
They are most voratious on overcast humid days, when it is moderately warm, but they are not so bad in direct sunlight. Also, they don't like wind as they can't fly very fast They are not around after dark, the mozzies do the night shift.
They are more prevalent in the summer months when it is warmer, but a few hardy ones manage to survive the winter, just to keep our visitors on their toes.
The best protection is to cover up. long trousers and sleeves, and wear a hat. Cover the backs of your hands with a good repellent, and put some on your cheeks and round your neck, but not on your forehead, as the sweat will carry it into your eyes, and the last thing you will be worrying about will be sandflies.
The bite is not infectious, they don't carry maleria, Ross river virus, denge fever etc. HOWEVER, if you scratch the bite and break the skin the wound can get infected from dirt under your nails, and you can get boils and absesses which can be very hard to get rid of, and can cause perminant scars.
Locals build up an imunity, so they don't itch, although the bite is still anoying. There is some evedence that Vitamin B stops them biting. Most Kiwis eat VEGIMITE, a strong black spread rich in vitamin B, which we spread thinly on our morning toast. Unfortunately for our visitors it takes a lifetime of eating it to get any protection
Various antihistamines and creams can help. STINGOES is good, but there are many others available at the chemist.
Some people are acutely sensitive to insect bites, and can have an alergic reaction. If you are alergic to bee stings you could well also be alergic to sandflies. You should carry medication as the places you are likely to get bitten are also likely to be far from medical help. I've never heard of anyone dying from a sandfly bite, but anythings possible,
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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I have been to South Island in April, the first half.Sandflies are a problem only when going to Milford Sound & Te Anu but if you cover yourself well, put ultraguard or DEET or anything stronger it wont be a problem.
We took the cruise in Milford Sound not the hike so although we saw swarms of them from the vehicle window, the windows were closed & if we did stop for photos we were told not to stand still for too long, sounds funny but they said keep moving.The people at Milford are quite well versed & will help you out.Also you can buy the repellants there & they can guide you. But it is a concern but I wouldnt say a major one.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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They are all over the west coast of the South Island, unless you are above the tree line. They are worse around streams. I get a very bad reaction, like mickrory, and no, I didn't scratch!. My precautions are to cover up, use repellent, and to carry an oral antihistamine as well as a strong cream. It still took two weeks for my bites to clearup.
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Old Nov 30th, 2007, 02:27 AM
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Thirty years ago I was a front seat passenger on a hairy flight by small plane from Queenstown to Milford Sound and back in bad weather in mid winter (July). The 'sand flies' (bush flies perhaps, but more like the sand flies in Aust) we picked up for the return leg helped keep our minds off the cloud shrouded sheer cliff walls which seemed uncomfortably close at times. Sand flies or not, NZ, and particularly the South Island, is a spectacular tourist destination and IMO anyone coming half way around the world to visit Australia should try to fit in NZ as well.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Hi Everyone!

Sand flies, bush flies, whatever you want to call 'em, they're just EVIL and the only thing I dislike about New Zealand!

Just back from NZ 6 days ago, and once again, wearing my "badge of honor" - a small vampire type looking bite on my right ankle that I've had for nearly a month (since the beginning of my trip on the North Island). It didn't actually itch (unlike others I got) - hey does that mean I'm a "local" now? but irritating nonetheless - when will it go away?! (stay tuned)

Yes, the conventional wisdom is that they don't like wind (hello? how come I could see them on the back of the jet boat operator's jacket?) and they don't like cold (as another poster said, "how cold does it have to get?")

I had a NZ sandfly stick, "Off" (which has DEET in it), long pants and a jacket and I still got bitten. With all the stick & spray on, I pity anyone that was downwind of me!

Vcba, as much as they hurt it's not going to make me eat Vegemite anytime soon!


Certified Kiwi Specialist
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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Melodie, How can you call yourself a "Kiwi Specialist" if you don't eat Vegemite? To be a true Kiwi you have to drink Speights, eat Mutton Birds, and LOVE Vegemite.
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