New Zealand has long gained a strong reputation for being the ultimate travel destination for those seeking adventure and thrills. With white water rafting trips, bungee jumping and skydiving all extremely popular with tourists, the rugged beauty of this country has provided the perfect backdrop for adventure holidays. However, New Zealand is rich in bird and other wildlife, making in an ever-increasingly popular choice for nature lovers. Visiting New Zealand’s bird and wildlife is one of the best ways to explore the diverse beauty of this amazing island.
Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary
With so many predators around, many of New Zealand’s defenceless birds are at danger at being eaten. Although New Zealand’s ecologists have tried to control pests and reduce the number of these defenceless creatures, they have had little success. As such, many sanctuaries around the country were established, complete with predator-proof fencing. Zealandia, located in the centre of Wellington, was one of the first to open. Established around a derelict reservoir, this 225 hectare sanctuary has become a haven for the native wildlife which has gone from strength to strength now they don’t have to worry about predators.
The great thing about this particular sanctuary is that the birds here are unaware of they are sealed off. Tui, bellbirds and the rare kaka, three native species of birds, can be seen all over, providing a warm welcome to visitors in the city before heading back to the sanctuary at dusk to rest.
Swimming with the world’s smallest dolphin
One of the definite highlights of exploring New Zealand is the opportunity to swim with the rare Hector dolphins. Weighing the same as an average medium sized adult dog and just over one metre long, there are only a few thousand of these amazing creatures left in the wild. Head to Akaroa, located near Christchurch, where you can board a boat which takes you out onto the water and swim with them. However, you are instructed not to touch them, even if they slow down enough for you to do so.
Hanging out with kakapo on Ulva Island
It wasn’t so long ago that New Zealand’s flightless kakapo parrot almost became extinct. Only 51 of these beautiful birds were recorded in 1995, but a successful breeding program has doubled their number. Kakapo birds can only be found on a few protected islands in New Zealand, but in October they are brought to Ulva Island where visitors can view and learn more about them.
Penguin watching on The Catlins Coast
The rural charms of the Catlins Coast have not only appealed to travellers who seek out the more rustic destinations, but also the vast numbers of penguins and other wildlife who make their home here. The charming little blue penguins and their somewhat bigger cousins with yellow eyes, draw tourists to this area in their thousands. Find a comfortable spot to sit on the hills overlooking the beach or opt for one of the hides available, and wait for droves of these beautiful creatures to toddle onto shore to rest for the night.
Penguins aren’t the only water-loving creatures to view here. Fur seals, elephant seals and Hector dolphins can all be watched along this stunning coastline.
Kiwi spotting in the Kauri
Although the kiwi bird may be the national bird of New Zealand, most will only have seen one in a zoo. These flightless nocturnal birds are very rare to see out in their natural habitat although you may hear their distinctive calls on the breeze as you settle down to sleep at night. However, if you want to view one in the wild then there are a few places in the country where you can do so. Trounson Kauri Park operates a series of brown kiwi night-time walks where visitors can view these birds in their natural homes, along with many other forms of native wildlife.
New Zealand may be popular with adventure seekers but don’t be fooled into thinking that is all this remarkable country has to offer. Its native wildlife will ensure that nature lovers will experience an adrenaline rush just as much as bungee jumping would do.