North Island Birding and Wildlife Itinerary

North Island Birding and Wildlife Itinerary

Welcome to New Zealand!

Welcome to Auckland, our City of Sails.

Situated amongst a cluster of extinct volcanic cones, Auckland is a large harbour that bustles with life, both on water and on land. It straddles a slim piece of land with the coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean and, on the wild West Coast, the Tasman Sea.

On your arrival, you will be transferred to your accommodation. After checking into your hotel, relax and stretch your legs with a stroll around our beautiful city. Explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available for a more in-depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Tonight enjoy our city to your heart's content! Tomorrow you'll get up close to our feathered friends for the first time on a remarkable predator-free island.

Some activities and sightseeing options if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Accommodation: Auckland - 1 Night


This 4.5 star apartment hotel offers 50 spacious 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suits positioned in the heart of Auckland city, all with full hotel services and facilities. It’s elevated position gives you splendid views out to the Waitemata Harbour, City views and onwards to Rangitoto Island. An exclusive boutique style apartment style  featuring spacious living, a relaxing indoor heated pool and spa and car parking. All suites offer large individual balconies from which Auckland harbour views and city can be appreciated.

The Sebel Quay West Auckland


Sail to Tiritiri Matangi Island Sanctuary

Spend a full day wandering beneath the lush forest canopies of Tiritiri Matangi Island, a beautiful reserve where the birds definitely rule the roost.

Tiritiri Matangi Island Sanctuary Tour 
This precious jewel set in the Hauraki Gulf is home to many of New Zealand's most endangered plant and bird species. A glorious safe haven free from pests and predators, it's home to our most common birds many of our rarest too.

When you arrive, take a 90-minute tour of the island with experienced guides to show you all the best spots to find each species of native birds.

You can hunt for our huge, clumsy Kereru (NZ Wood Pigeon) wobbling on branches that strain under their massive bulk. Hear Tui singing their robotic melodies, proudly puffing up their throats as if performing on stage. Search for endangered, prehistoric-looking Takahe on the grassy plains. Peek in on Little Blue Penguins in their nesting boxes. Or simply relax and enjoy the symphony of songbirds, seabirds, honeyeaters, parrots and so many more.

Beautiful views of Auckland harbour await you on the ferry ride home - a perfect way to end your day.

Some birds to look out for: Tui, Kereru, Bellbird, Kokako, Takahe, Pukeko, North Island Robin, Little Blue Penguin, Fantail, Grey Warbler, Stitchbird, Kaka, Tomtit.


NZ Native Bird
New Zealand Island


Auckland to Otorohanga: A Kiwi Encounter

Collecting your rental car this morning you will be leaving Auckland behind. Your road trip begins with a drive to Otorohanga to visit our beloved national bird, the Kiwi. On the way you will experience the subterranean world on a Waitomo Glow Worm Cave Tour. As you gently float along an underground river, a spectacular light show unfolds before your eyes. Your local guide will tell you all about these fascinating creatures and the secrets of their underground home.

Emerging into daylight, take a gentle walk along a gorge path to Te Ana o te Atua, the Cave of the Spirit. Here you will find a treasure-trove of history including evidence of past explorers and the fossils of extinct giant Moa birds.

Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park 
The Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park have been helping to save our endangered Kiwi since 1971. It's the best place in New Zealand to see our fluffy, flightless national icon up close!

Specially designed nocturnal enclosures allow you to watch Kiwi going about their lives without disturbing them. It's a rare chance to encounter three different species all in one place: Brown Kiwi, Greater Spotted Kiwi, and Little Spotted Kiwi.

As well as Kiwi, the Native Bird Park houses New Zealand's largest dome aviary and the largest private collection of native birds and reptiles in the country. Check out their Tuataras basking in the sun - these reptiles are even older than dinosaurs!

After meeting the birds who brighten up our skies, you'll love tomorrow's encounter with some rather special creatures who brighten our underground caves: the Waitomo Glow Worms.

Approximate Distance: 184 km | 114 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

Accommodation: Waitomo - 1 night

Kiwi Bird

Come and stay in tranquility with this eco-friendly, self-sufficient retreat in the Wild West of the North Island. Your hosts Biddy and Rich welcome you to their 1666 acre working sheep and cattle farm. Experience the peace and tranquility whilst absorbing stunning mountain and limestone views of the central North Island close to Waitomo Caves. 


Otorohanga to Hawkes Bay

Driving east to Hawkes Bay, you will stay in the coastal city of Napier, whose exquisitely preserved 1930s Art Deco architecture gives a unique feel and atmosphere - it's like stepping back in time.

Approximate Distance: 289 km | 179 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Accommodation: Napier - 2 nights

Art Deco Napier
This property is a 1-minute walk from the beach. Albatross Motel offers affordable accommodation overlooking the Ahuriri Estuary Reserve, a short walk from the beach. The motel is also within walking distance of the popular bars and restaurants of Napier’s marina. All of the rooms at the Albatross Motel feature kitchen facilities, over 50 cable channels, and free Wi-Fi. Private off-street parking is provided for each unit.
Albatross Motel Napier


Hawkes Bay: The Gannets of Cape Kidnappers

See majestic gannets in their natural habitat today on a 4WD adventure to remember.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve 4WD Safari 
The craggy cliffs Cape Kidnappers boast the largest mainland gannet nesting site on the planet. In peak breeding season up 20,000 gannets make their home here at any one time.

Today's 4WD safari will give you unparalleled close-up access to these magnificent birds and their young. Watch in amazement as they swoop overhead, conducting spectacular high-dives into the sea. With their huge six foot (2 metre wingspan) they are impossibly elegant in flight.

On land, you'll see them nesting, preening, and performing their trademark courting dances while you watch from just a few feet away.

Your guide will be on hand to provide insights into gannet behavior and the environmental pressures faced by these beautiful birds worldwide.

gannet safari Napier


Hawkes Bay to Martinborough: A One-of-A-Kind Encounter

Your journey takes you to Martinborough today, where you'll meet a truly remarkable New Zealand native: Manukura, the world's only known white Kiwi.

Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre 
Manukura resides at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. This wonderful wildlife reserve aims to ensure that all of the area's original bird species can return and thrive here so that the sound of birdsong will remain for future generations to enjoy.

Another special resident here is Kahurangi, a rare North Island Kokako. She loves people, and if you hear wolf-whistling around the park, it's likely to be her!

You'll also encounter the cheeky wild kaka parrots as they swoop out of the forest for their feed. You may also find them outside the cafe, trying to charm you into giving them snacks.

With insightful talks and six daily feeds of takahe, kiwi, eel, kaka, gecko, and tuatara, there is ample opportunity to learn about this outstanding conservation project and the natives who thrive from it.

Approximate Distance: 273 km | 169 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Accommodation: Martinborough - 1 night

Sophisticated, elegant, boutique accommodation that stands 'Pride of Place' at the entrance of The Square in the wine region of Martinborough Each suite or room is named after a original pioneer family. Stories about each family can be found in your room or suite. Guests can unwind in the cosy Kitchener Library, with it’s extensive collection of old and new books, large gas fireplace and comfortable seating. The private picturesque garden courtyard is another area for guests to enjoy, with its pretty rose gardens and large oak tree.
Martinborough Hotel


Martinborough to Wellington - Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

Drive south to Wellington and discover Zealandia, where some of New Zealand's rarest native animals are thriving and living freely, right on the doorstep of our nation's capital.

The Karori Sanctuary at Zealandia 
Nowhere else in New Zealand can you experience many of New Zealand's rarest birds, insects, and reptiles in their natural environment.

The Karori Sanctuary is protected by a unique 8.6 km predator-proof fence specially designed to exclude non-native mammals such as hedgehogs and possums. With 17km of lush forest walking trails to explore, take your time, walk quietly, and watch in amazement as the sanctuary's residents peep out at you and reveal their presence.

Approximate Distance: 220 km | 136 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 48 Min

Accommodation: Wellington - 1 Night

This property is 5 minutes walk from the beach. Located within Wellington’s exclusive Oriental Bay neighborhood, Ohtel offers luxurious accommodation with views of the Chaffers Marina. It features exquisitely designed bathrooms fitted with locally made natural toiletries. Ohtel’s rooms consist of sophisticated furnishings mixed with ultramodern accessories. The flat-screen TV in each room has a podcast and digital audio capabilities.


Bon Voyage

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage! Today we say farewell. We take care of your transfer to Wellington Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.


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What Jess says about this tour: There so many beautiful birds in New Zealand's North Island that you just can't see anywhere else on the planet. Did I mention prehistoric reptiles and caves full of glow worms? We can't wait for you to meet them in their ridiculously scenic natural surroundings!
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