New Zealand Highlights: Nov 28—Dec 15, 2015

Register for WaitlistTour Details

Price: $6,995
$500 Price Reduction! Internal flights included
Departs: Auckland
Ends: Invercargill
Tour Limit: 12
Operations Manager: Erik Lindqvist
Download Itinerary: PDF (122.9 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Dion Hobcroft

Dion Hobcroft has been working for VENT since 2001. He has led many tours (more than 170) to...

Local Leader

More Information

Register for the Waiting List

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Takahe— Photo: Dion Hobcroft


A journey that explores the best of the North and South Islands with the aim of seeing most of the special birds of “Land of the Long White Cloud.” We will visit island sanctuaries, enjoy spectacular alpine scenery, search for elusive kiwis at night, and have some outstanding pelagic excursions.

When New Zealand separated from Gondwanaland 70 million years ago, it had no mammals or large reptiles. Progressively isolated from the other landmasses, it has followed its own evolutionary course since then. In the virtual absence of predators, a remarkable array of flightless birds evolved, including kiwis, rails, the giant moas, and even a flightless parrot. With the arrival of humans—first the Maori and later the Europeans—a long series of extinctions began. Hunting for food and minor forest clearance by the Maoris gave way to the clearing of large tracts of native habitat for the settler’s livestock. Exotics were released in misguided attempts to make the land “more like home,” predators were released to control them, man’s camp followers became established, and alien plants arrived from all directions. All of these factors had a severe negative impact on the native birds and forests. Sadly, this process of extinction has continued through this century. Now an estimated ten percent of the world’s endangered birds are found in New Zealand. All is not lost, however, because New Zealand is one of the world leaders in bird conservation, and tremendously innovative efforts are being made to preserve the native birds and habitats. This tour offers an opportunity to see a superb assortment of the native birds by visiting key areas where they have a good chance of surviving.

Southern Brown Kiwi by torch light, Stewart Island.

Southern Brown Kiwi by torch light, Stewart Island.— Photo: Ian Southey

New Zealand has six entire families of birds found nowhere else: the kiwis, New Zealand parrots, New Zealand wrens, Stitchbird, Mohouas, and New Zealand wattlebirds. We should see a representative of each one. In addition, there are over 40 more species of birds endemic to the country. The seabirds are outstanding; many of them nest in the region, and there are few places in the world where one can see such a variety of them with such ease. This tour includes a number of boat trips with pelagic birds as the focus, but it’s not necessary to travel far offshore to see them.

Scenery is paramount, from the lush lowland forests to majestic Mt. Cook. Nowhere else but in this one small country will you find such a diverse and spectacular combination of natural features—the mighty snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, deep fiords carved by glaciers, tranquil lakes and bubbling mud pots, towering forests, dense coastal scrub, and lovely near-deserted beaches. This is a wonderful country, with outstanding food, excellent accommodations and roads, friendly people, and remarkably tidy towns and countryside.

Very good to good accommodations with one night in more home-stay style accommodation as we search for the rare Little Spotted Kiwi on superb Kapiti Island; good food; easy to moderate terrain; typically cool and overcast with frequent showers, but often sunny and warm, especially in the north.