This is a companion to my Bird of the Day blog, which focuses on birds I have seen in Victoria, Canada.

When my husband and I started planning a trip to New Zealand, I was delighted to read about the large number of unique birds that reside there. Having exhausted the supply of new birds at home, this was a welcome opportunity to continue my birding education. This blog will cover the various birding sites on the North and South Islands and (hopefully) the multitude of birds we encounter there.

Friday, March 2, 2012


After spending the day exploring the glowworm caves in Waitomo, we drove the short distance to Otorohanga. There we met up with a couple of volunteers from the Kiwi House who took us to see a breeding pair of North Island Brown Kiwis and a Great Spotted Kiwi. It was a remarkable experience to see these rare birds at so close a range and I can't think of a more fitting way of spending our last evening in New Zealand.  

North Island Brown Kiwi (female)

Great Spotted Kiwi

Monday, February 27, 2012


Having read that Kaikoura is the albatross capital of New Zealand, if not the world, we decided to take a boat trip with Albatross Encounter. We saw five different species of albatross: Southern Royal Albatross, two species of wandering albatross (Gibson's and Antipodean) and two types of mollymawk (Salvin's and New Zealand White-capped). 

Southern Royal Albatross
Gibson's Wandering Albatross
Antipodean Wandering Albatross

New Zealand White-chinned Mollymawk
Salvin's Mollymawk
Other seabirds were also plentiful in the area, including petrel.

Cape Petrel

White-chinned Petrel

Giant-Northern Petrel
As an extra bonus, we saw both Dusky and Hector's Dolphins while out on the water, as well as a Little Blue Penguin. All in all, it was a great trip and a definite must for anyone interested in seabirds. 

Little Blue Penguin

Friday, February 24, 2012

Otago Peninsula (Day 2)

Although the rain had stopped over night, there were strong southwesterly winds on our second day in Portobello. Fortunately, these are the best conditions for albatross and we were able to see a large number of Northern Royal Albatross in flight. We also saw a nesting site with one adult and a chick. 

On the rocks beneath the Royal Albatrosses, a group of Stewart Island Shags were nesting. On the cliffs around the corner was a nesting ground for Spotted Shags.

Stewart Island Shags

close-up of spots
Spotted Shag
Little Blue Penguin

Later that night, we made our way down to Pilot Beach right next door to watch for Little Blue Penguins. At dusk, the first three came ashore and waddled up the hill to their burrows. After waiting another 10 to 15 minutes, a whole crowd of them appeared and made their way past us up the hill. Unfortunately, it was too dark by that time to get a good look at them although some walked by within feet of where we were sitting. It was also much too dark to take any pictures but I did get a few of some in nesting boxes earlier in the day. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Otago Peninsula

Rain was falling heavily as we drove into Portobello on the Otago Peninsula. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), it turned out to be the best place for viewing sea birds. I saw quite a variety including: Spoonbills, Pied Shags, Little Shags, Pied Oystercatchers, Pied Stilts, Red-billed Gulls, Black-backed Gulls, Caspian Tern, Black Swans, Paradise Shelducks, White-faced Herons, Shovellers and PENGUINS. There are Yellow-Eyed Penguin colonies in the area with hides built to allow people to watch the penguins without disturbing them. We saw four babies, as well as a number of mottling adults.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Arthur's Pass

Stopping at a lookout in Arthur's Pass, we were delighted to find a fair number of Kea. These alpine parrots are related to the North Island Kaka. Needless to say, I kept my eye on these birds after my Kaka encounter.

We had been warned about Kea trying to carry away unguarded items and causing damage to cars; however, I hadn't heard how entertaining their behaviour was. I found their antics quite comical. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Abel Tasman Park

We spent the last three nights at Kairuru, a sheep and cattle farm abutting Abel Tasman National Park. In addition to gorgeous scenery and a plethora of farm animals, we saw lots of Australasian Harriers flying overhead.
Australasian Harrier (Kahu)

While hiking in the park, we encountered numerous groups of California Quail, each consisting of a male, a female and about a dozen chicks. Very cute!

California Quail (male)

California Quail (female)

Northwest region of South Island

Last weekend, we took the ferry from Wellington to Picton on the South Island.  From there we drove through the Marlborough district to Motueka.  On the way, we stopped at a few of beaches and lagoons where we saw the following birds.
Grey Teal
Black Shag

Paradise Shelduck (male)