Bird Watching Around New Zealand

New Zealand Birds

Bird watching in New Zealand is specialised and very rewarding since many of the birds are endemic i.e. they only occur in New Zealand.

Some are rather rare and survive only in pockets of bush and on offshore islands.

Good numbers of both native and endemic birds can be seen in the South Western Waikato region, many within a 50Km (30 mile) radius of Redwood Lodge.

Locations to visit include:
Lake Ngaroto in Te Awamutu where Bittern, Spotless Crake, Marsh Crake and Fernbird have all been recorded.

Rangitoto Station, a remote area of native forest and grazing for sheep. Apart from wonderful views, there are also good numbers of bush birds. The wide variety of birds here includes the New Zealand falcon, Kaka (a large grey/brown parrot with bright red underwings) and Kokako (of the wattle bird family).

Oparau Wetland is a very small area of marshy land where Spotless Crake, Fernbird and Bellbird have been reported. Ruakuri bush walk a short but productive walk (45mins-1hr) in this beautiful bush may be rewarded by sightings of New Zealand Falcon, New Zealand pigeon, Tomtit, Whitehead, Tui and Bellbird. Ruakuri is considered one of the best short walks on North Island and is only 10 minutes from Redwood Lodge.

Mapara Wildlife Reserve is carefully managed to keep it as free from predators as possible, these actions have resulted in an upsurge in the numbers of many target birds in the area, kokako has been particularly successful. The bush walk (about 2 hours) resounds to the bird song, and commonly seen are Tui, Bellbird, Whitehead, Tomtit, Shining Cuckoo, Long-tailed Cuckoo and New Zealand Pigeon. In addition sightings of New Zealand Falcon and Kokako are also a strong possibility.

Further afield is Pureora Forest with several options for birding. The tower hide is a good vantage point for seeing Kokako at daybreak, and Kaka at most times during the day. There are various bush walks all of which can produce a number of native species of birds.
The list for Pureora includes:

New Zealand Pigeon, New Zealand Falcon, Kaka, Yellow Crowned Parakeet, Shining Cuckoo, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Kingfisher, Rifleman, New Zealand Pipit, Fantail, Tomtit, New Zealand Robin, Whitehead, Grey Warbler, Bellbird, Tui, Silvereye, and Kokako.

Bird Watching

Birdwatching in New Zealand at Redwood Lodge Waitomo          Kaka

New Zealand Robin

6 tips for bird watching with binoculars in New Zealand Forests

  • Mature and old native bush often supports a better range of native birds, particularly in areas where predator control is active
  • A clearing or break in the canopy can often be very rewarding.
  • Try to get above the forest canopy, a cliff, bridge or tower maybe.
  • Many birds feed only in the canopy or will move around by flying over rather than under it.
  • Use your ears, birdcalls can tell you a lot about type and location, look for movement and then use your binoculars to locate.
  • Try standing still for 5-10 minutes, bird feeding parties are very active and cover large areas of forest. Allow them to come to you.
Bird watching in New Zealand is undertaken mainly for pleasure, conservation and/or scientific purposes. There are very few birdwatchers and even fewer 'twitchers', therefore overseas birders should not be put off by New Zealanders lack of apparent excitement when encountering rare or unusual species.

Also, do not be surprised when visiting key areas such as Miranda or Pureora forest to find that you are quite alone and have only your binoculars for company when you are bird watching in New Zealand!

Contact Redwood Lodge and we will be pleased to help you plan your North Island bird watching vacation.