This was my wife Diana's and my first visit to New Zealand, so the objective was not only to find birds but also to see something of the country and its culture. There were occasions when birding took second place to other considerations, and as a result we undoubtedly missed some birding opportunities and did not see as many species as would have been possible had we dedicated the time available solely to birding. But then, it is always good to have missed a few species to be able to justify a return visit!
All pre-booked travel, car hire and accommodation for this trip were arranged over the Internet.
Inverness to Luton: easyJet through their website at www.easyJet.com.
London Heathrow to Auckland (via Los Angeles) and Auckland to Christchurch: Air New Zealand booked through Expedia UK through their website at www.expedia.co.uk.
Luton to Heathrow: National Express through their website at www.gobycoach.com
We pre-booked some hotel accommodation through Choice Hotels through their website at www.choicehotels.com
For ferries to Stewart Island and between Picton and Wellington, for car hire from Budget and for accommodation on Stewart Island we used the services of a Christchurch based travel agent, Michael Nees Travel NZ Ltd through their website at www.ginz.com. Our special thanks go to Sabine Kane who could not have been more helpful and gave us excellent service.
I pre-booked the pelagic trip out of Kaikoura through Oceanwings through their website at www.oceanwings.co.nz, E-mail: email@example.com.
The trip through Queen Charlotte Sound for Rough-faced Shag was booked through Dolphin Watch Marlborough at PO Box 197 Picton. Telephone: 03 573 7906, Fax: 03 573 8040. E-mail: dolphin.Marlborough@xtra.co.nz. Website: www.dolphinwatchmarlborough.co.nz.
|Christchurch||Airport Plaza Hotel||Corner Memorial Avenue and Orchard Road||Telephone: 03 358 3139
Fax: 03 358 3029
|Kaikoura||Panorama Motel||266 Esplanade||Telephone: 03 319 5053
Fax: 03 319 6605
|Fairlie||Aorangi Motel||26 Denmark Street||Telephone/Fax: 03 685 8340||www.mtcook.org.nz/fairlie/motels/aorangi/index.htm|
|The Old Library Café||6 Allandale Road||Telephone/Fax: 03 685 8999|
|Twizel||Colonial Motel||36-38 Mackenzie Drive||Telephone: 03 435 0100
Fax: 03 435 0499
|Corner Café||Market Place||Telephone: 03 435 0501|
|Dunedin||Southern Cross Hotel||118 High Street||Telephone: 03 477 0752
Fax: 03 477 5776
|Abalone Restaurant & Bar||Corner George and Hanover Streets||Telephone: 03 477 6777|
|Bluff||Foveaux Hotel||Main Street||Telephone: 03 212 7196
Fax: 03 212 7197
|Campbelltown Car Storage||14 Gregory Street||Telephone: 03 212 7404|
|Stewart Island||Stewart Island Lodge||PO Box 5 Halfmoon Bay||Telephone/Fax: 03 219 1085||www.stewartislandlodge.co.nz|
|Haast||World Heritage Hotel||Telephone: 03 750 0828
Fax: 03 750 0827
|Greymouth||Gables Motor Lodge||84 High Street||Telephone: 03-768-9991
Fax: 03 768 9992
Reservations Freephone: 0800 809 991
|Café Collage||115 Mackay Street||Telephone: 03 768 5497|
|Picton||Marlin Motel||PO Box 107
33 Devon Street
|Telephone: 03 573 6784
Fax: 03 573 6987
|Americano Restaurant||32 High Street||Telephone: 03 573 7040|
|Taupo||Baywater Motor Inn||126 Lake Terrace||Telephone: 07 378 9933
Fax: 7 378 9940
|The Bach||2 Pataka Road||Telephone: 07 378 7856|
|Miranda||Miranda Shorebird Centre||R. D. 1
Pokeno, South Auckland
|Telephone/Fax: 09 232 2781||E-mail: Shorebird@xtra.co.nz
|Auckland||Gateway Motel||Kirkbride Road|
|Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand||Heather & Robertson||Oxford University Press|
|The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds||Moon||Reed Books|
|Field Guide to New Zealand Seabirds||Parkinson||New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd|
|Birdwatching in New Zealand||Burfield||Private publication|
|Where to Watch Birds in Australasia & Oceania||Wheatley||Christopher Helm|
|The Rough Guide to New Zealand||Harper, Mudd & Whitfield||The Rough Guides|
|New Zealand||Insight Guide||APA Publications|
|New Zealand 10-27 November 1999||Jon Hornbuckle||worldtwitch.virtualave.net/new_zealand.htm|
|New Zealand 4-24 November 1999||Neva Pruess||http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/tripeports/NewZealand99.html|
|New Zealand 7-30 November 1996||Richard J. Fairbank||http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/tripeports/NewZealand96RF.html|
|North Island New Zealand 1:1 000 000||Hema Maps NZ Ltd|
|North Island New Zealand 1:1 000 000||Wises Maps|
|South Island New Zealand 1:1 000 000||Hema Maps NZ Ltd|
|South Island New Zealand 1:1 250 000||Dept of Survey & Land Information|
A dismal arrival at Auckland - predawn darkness and rain. After completing the formalities we transferred to an internal flight to Christchurch. As we flew south the weather improved, and we had superb views of the snow capped Southern Alps and the Kaikoura Ranges.
On arriving at Christchurch we checked into the Flag Airport Plaza Hotel and after a good breakfast caught up with lost sleep.
In the afternoon I drove over to the eastern end of Lake Ellesmere, and in the early evening we walked through the Botanical Gardens before dining well at the Brogues restaurant in the centre of town.
Overnight rain started to clear up while we breakfasted, and the rest of the day was fine. We spent the day on the Bank's Peninsula, and during the afternoon I took the harbour cruise, which in addition to White-flippered Little Penguin gave close up views of Hector's Dolphin.
Again we woke to a showery morning but the rain gave way soon after breakfast to another fine day.
The only way that we could work a visit to Kaikoura into our agenda was by making an overnight visit and then returning south, so we set off north on State Highway 1. After a coffee break at Cheviot we stopped of at St Anne's Lagoon just north of the town were we found our first Shinning Bronze-Cuckoo. Further north a damp field near the bridge crossing the Chilly Stream held Double-banded Dotterel and Black-fronted Terns.
In the evening off Kaikoura there was a passage north of hundreds of Hutton's Shearwaters with a few other seabird species.
We checked into the Panorama Motel and dined on an excellent supper of blue cod and chips with a bottle of good South Island wine.
A superb cloudless morning. A photographer from Auckland and I were the only morning bookings on the Ocean Wings pelagic out of Kaikoura, so we arranged for an extended trip leaving early and returning mid morning. A spectacular trip with wonderful seabirds against the backdrop of the snow covered Kaikoura ranges.
During the afternoon we headed south on State Highway 1, stopping at St Anne's Lagoon again, through Christchurch to overnight at the Aorangi Motel in Fairlie on the edge of the Mackenzie Country. We had another excellent dinner, this time at the Old Library Café Bar in Fairlie.
Another superb clear day. We drove up to the Mackenzie Country first taking the side road along the west bank of Lake Tekapo as far as the bridge over the Cass River, in an unsuccessful search for Black Stilt, and then returning to Tekapo village for coffee and cakes at the Observatory Café in the company of a small flock of Black-billed Gulls.
From Tekapo we headed for the southern end of Lake Pukaki and then north along the road following the west bank of the lake to Mount Cook Resort, enjoying spectacular views of Mount Cook and snow capped mountains on the way. The braided river system at the mouth of the Tasman River is extensive, and we were unable to find any Black Stilts.
Returning south through Twizel just south of the town we took the road east past the hydro-electric stations to the north end of Lake Benmore where we at last found a single Black Stilt.
At Twizel we checked into the Colonial Motel and ate at the excellent Corner Cafe.
Yet another beautiful sunny day! After a short drive along the canal road at the end of Glen Lyon Road to the small Lake Poaka in search of Black Stilts we joined the organised and informative visit to the Black Stilt Captive Breading Centre. Then on for a picnic lunch and a successful search for Wrybill on the Ahuriri River north of Omarama.
The rest of the day was spent driving down to Dunedin where we had pre-booked accommodation at the Southern Cross Hotel in the centre of the city. Dinner at the Abalone Restaurant was one of the best of the whole trip.
The whole day spent on the Otago Peninsula including a visit to the Penguin Place for close up views of Yellow-eyed Penguin. The Royal Albatross Reserve was closed to visitors because egg laying had not been completed, and DOC were concerned by possible detrimental effects of visitor disturbance. However, close flight views of Royal Albatross were seen plus some distant views of three birds on the ground.
Dined at the hotel to be joined in the restaurant by an American tour group who where piped in to dinner by a piper in full Highland dress - home from home 12,000 miles away!
A deliberately low key day as far as birding was concerned. Morning visit to the south of Dunedin to the Sinclair Wetlands for a successful search for Fernbird. Then back north through Dunedin on SH1 to the Moeraki Boulders with some birding in Trotter's Gorge and at Shag point.
Dined on some of the best fish and chips I have tasted anywhere from a take away near Dunedin University.
Our first bad break with the weather. We left Dunedin in dry but overcast weather to travel through the Catlins to Bluff. Our first stop was at Nugget Point, and by the time we left the rain had set in, and it continued until we left the Catlins making unfeasible any search for passerines in the extensive native forests of the area.
A visit to Waituna Lagoon east of Bluff looking for shorebirds drew a complete blank.
Accommodation in Bluff is limited, and we checked into the Foveaux Hotel. We dined at the Drunken Sailor restaurant at Stirling Point which has large windows overlooking the Foveaux Straight. During the meal we saw our only Brown Skua on the trip.
We crossed to Stewart Island by the morning crossing of the Foveaux Express, a fast catamaran which in bouncy conditions is not conducive to identifying distant sea birds. Of the three identifiable mollymawks, one was a New Zealand White-capped, one a Northern Buller's and one a Shy of unidentified type. The only other species were 20+ Common Diving Petrels, one Hall's Giant Petrel and six Sooty Shearwaters.
After checking into the Stewart Island Lodge, where we were to spend the next two nights, we completed a couple of the shorter walks around Oban which produced Kaka and Red-crowned Parakeet and good views of the commoner endemics.
In the evening we joined one of Phillip Smith's Kiwi spotting trips to Ocean Beach and had good views of three Brown Kiwis and from the boat 24 Little Penguins.
Heavy overnight showers were starting to die out as we waited at Golden Beach for the water taxi to take us over to Ulva Island.
By crossing early we had the island to ourselves as it was some time before other boats arrived. The main species seen were 11 delightfully tame and inquisitive Wekas, 2 Yellow-crowned Parakeets, 11 Pipipi and 5 Kakas. Tui and New Zealand Bellbirds were abundant. Failed to find Saddleback.
Made the early morning crossing to the mainland, this time on the smaller catamaran the Southern Express. Sea conditions were calmer than two days before and sea bird identification much easier. Of the six Mollymawks seen two were identified as Northern Buller's and two as New Zealand White-capped. Other species of interest were two Cape Petrels, 50+ Common Diving Petrels and one Hall's Giant Petrel.
The early morning brightness at Stewart Island gave way to rain by the time we had reached Invercargill, but it did not persist, and for the most of the day we had sunny, if breezy, conditions. To give us time to spend two nights in Picton before crossing to the North Island we decided that we had to reach Haast on the west coast by nightfall. This meant that a detour to the Homer Tunnel to look for Rock Wren was out of the question, and we had to decide whether to stop on the way to look for Yellowhead and Rifleman or to push on and leave time for an evening visit to Monros Beach for Fiordland Crested Penguin. The Penguin won!
After a day of driving through stunning scenery we reached Haast and checked into the World Heritage Hotel, which was a mistake. The rooms were below acceptable standard, and the food and service mediocre.
After dinner I drove the thirty or so kilometres to the head of the trail to Monros Beach and made the thirty-five minute walk down to the beach through magnificent natural forest. Hundreds of Sooty Shearwaters were flying south off the beach with one or two unidentified mollymawks. After a fifteen minute wait, at 20.15, a single Fiordland Crested Penguin left the sea, waddled up the beach and disappeared into the rocks.
We woke to a bright sunny morning with cloudless blue skies but a stiff southwest wind. On the road north we stopped off to enjoy the forest at Monros Beach and then drove on to Fox Glacier where we were entertained in the car park by a Kea and had good views of a singing Shinning Bronze-Cuckoo.
After a brief detour to view the Franz Josef Glacier we visited the DOC centre in the village, and on leaving we were lucky to see two New Zealand Falcons flying through the trees behind the centre.
By the time we turned off the Highway to the Okarito Lagoon the wind had strengthened and it was becoming overcast. We had distant unsatisfactory views of two Great Egrets and watched a Caspian Tern fishing.
Arriving in Greymouth we checked in to the Gables Motel and dined at the Cafe Collage, relieved after the Haast experience to find that both the accommodation and food were back to the high standard we had come to expect in New Zealand.
The day ended bizarrely when a very polite young police officer interpreted my careful and admittedly hesitant driving through dark unfamiliar streets as a sign of drunkenness, and he breathalysed me. As I am always careful about drinking and driving, particularly in a foreign country, the test was negative, but it was an experience I could have done without.
Heavy overnight rain showers cleared away to give a bright sunny day. A birding-free day driving through spectacular scenery from Greymouth to Picton. Checked into the Marlin Motel and ate an excellent take away supper of blue cod and chips washed down with a bottle of Montana sauvignon blanc.
Another fine sunny day but becoming cloudier as the day progressed.
We spent the morning in Picton including a visit to the Te Awhina Kaha Marae, a very beautiful Maori meeting house,
In the afternoon I joined one of the Queen Charlotte Sound dolphin spotting trips run by Les and Zoe Battersby through Dolphin Watch. Although primarily designed to view dolphins, Les willing responded to my request to find the rare Rough-faced Shags and provided close views of eight birds. The trip included a visit to Motuara Island where we had good views of Saddleback and New Zealand Robin. Other birds of note on the trip were Fluttering Shearwater and Australasian Gannet. The Dusky Dolphins performed well.
In the evening dined we at the Americano Restaurant.
Crossed from Picton to Wellington on the Interislander ferry. A beautiful run up through the Marlborough Sounds but although we had some interesting seabirds, including Fairy Prion, the number were not great. Dusky Dolphins were in evidence.
With time running out we decided to drive as far north as we could, and by making no birding detours we reached Taupo in time to check into a motel and make for The Bach where our experience of excellent of excellent food and wine was continued.
An overcast morning, and our main objective to reach Miranda for the late afternoon high tide.
On the way to Rotorua we stopped off at the Thermal Wonderland at Wai-O-Tapu in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser perform and spent an interesting morning walking round the site. By the time we left after an early lunch the rain that had been threatening came on and we headed north for Miranda, reaching there late afternoon in time to catch the shorebird high tide roost. A single female Red-breasted Dotterel was well seen from the hide.
We had arranged to stay at the visitor centre and ate more excellent fish and chips from a take away at nearby Kaiaua.
A bad day!
A successful pre-breakfast walk produced thousands of waders at the high tide roost including a male Red-breasted Dotterel. After breakfast we packed up the car and decided to revisit the wader pools before heading north for Auckland. We parked the car by the side of the road where it was in full view at all times and set off for the pools. Then somebody drove up to the car, leapt out, smashed one of the windows and stole two small bags and some clothing while we watched helplessly some eight hundred yards away. Most of the rest of the day was spent reporting to the police, getting the car changing and trying to persuade the airline to reissue tickets which had been stolen. It was not until the evening after we had checked into the Gateway Hotel near Auckland airport that we did any more birding.
A restricted day because of the need to a make two visits to the airline office about replacement tickets. In the morning we drove north of Auckland to view the Australian Gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. The afternoon was spent visiting the Museum in central Auckland.
Our last day. In the morning we visited the Ambury Regional Park and the Mangere Sewage Works. As we had arrived after hours on the Friday night, and today was Saturday the office was closed during our stay and we were unable to obtain a permit. As large notices prohibiting public access protected extensive building works being undertaken we had to restrict our viewing to the public causeway, and the only species of note seen was Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Spotted Dove.
In the afternoon we visited the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve on the Tamaki River.
All dates refer to November 2000
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