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Birding New Zealand

Program Number: 17522RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/29/2012 - 11/16/2012; 10/24/2016 - 11/11/2016; 2/20/2017 - 3/10/2017;
Duration: 18 nights
Location: New Zealand
Price starting at: $4,795.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding
Meals: 45; 16 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Vegetarian    

When the land mass that would become New Zealand broke off from the prehistoric supercontinent of Gondwana, it was home to no predatory mammals. For millennia its birds of the air and sea multiplied, evolved and flourished. Meet the results of this ideal environment: the famous Kiwi, a source of national pride; the critically endangered Kakapo, a unique nocturnal parrot; the beautiful gannets, seabirds whose very first flight takes them 1,500 miles to Australia; and countless more.


• Marvel at the endangered Takahç (or Notornis), a strange flightless bird believed to be extinct for 50 years until it was rediscovered.
• At the Miranda Shorebird Centre, learn about the incredible migration of the godwits to Alaska and back.
• Experience New Zealand’s amazing geographical diversity from mountain passes in the Southern Alps to pristine rainforests.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day, some uneven terrain.

So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Auckland, 3 nights; coach to Miranda, 1 night; coach to Rotorua, 1 night; coach to Wellington, 3 nights; ferry to Picton; coach to Kaikoura, 3 nights; coach to Staveley, 3 nights; coach to Rangiora 2 nights; departure from Christchurch.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Cross International Date Line
1 night

Arrival Auckland (New Zealand)
3 nights

Join New Zealand conservation officers for an up-close look at the colony of gannets at Muriwai Beach. Hop the ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island, a nature reserve where the air is filled with the songs of 78 native bird species, including the Little Spotted Kiwi, the forest-dwelling Kôkako and the Brown Teal duck.

Coach to Miranda
1 night
Coach to Rotorua
1 night
Coach to Wellington
3 nights

Learn about the beautiful shorebirds of the Firth of Thames with the director of the renowned Miranda Naturalists' Trust. Discover the history of the Mâori and see the haka dance performed at Te Puia’s Mâori Culture Center. In Wellington, visit the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its unique pest-exclusion fence that keeps predators out to protect birds like the Toutouwai robin and the New Zealand Bellbird, famous for its morning singing.

Ferry to Picton
Coach to Kaikoura
3 nights

Ferry across Cook Strait to the South Island. Voyage into the rich waters off Kaikoura’s coast on a specialized vessel to search for the magnificent albatross, shearwaters and petrels. Visit a lavender farm to take in beautiful fields of purple.

Coach to Staveley
3 nights

At the base of the snowcapped Southern Alps, meet with a group of conservationists working to preserve this distinct environment. Visit breathtaking Arthur’s Pass National Park to look for native birds like the Kea, a rare alpine parrot.
Lodging: Comfortable private lodges.

Coach to Rangiora
2 nights
Coach to Christchurch Airport for Departure

Explore Rangiora, an attractive country town 40 minutes from Christchurch, on Canterbury Plains. Visit countryside and view bird species in wetland area and riverside bird-sites. Visit noted Antarctic Centre for lecture and to view exhibits.

New Zealand

English explorer Captain James Cook put New Zealand on the map when he sailed around the coast on the Endeavour in 1769. He not only mapped the area during his three voyages around the coast, but named landmarks, many of which still exist today. Dubbed the “land of the long white cloud” by the early Polynesian settlers, New Zealand’s predominately mountainous terrain and large coastal plains make it the perfect place for adventurous outdoor activity.

Auckland: Comfortable hotel in city center. Miranda: Comfortable motel. Rotorua: Hotel on Lake Rotorua. Wellington: Modern hotel in the heart of the city. Kaikoura: Inn surrounded by gardens. Staveley: Modern lodge. Rangiora: Comfortable motel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Warren Jowett

Warren Jowett is a naturalist, a skilled photographer and an experienced environmental educator accredited by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. He has a degree in botany and biogeography and has taught of biology and ecology. Warren is extremely knowledgeable about New Zealand’s native flora and fauna and enjoys leading Road Scholar participants in nature study excursions. He is the founding president of the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education.
Keith Woodley

Dr. Keith Woodley is the director of the Miranda Shorebird Centre, a Ramsar Convention wetland of international importance. The centre is directed by the Miranda Naturalists Trust, a nongovernmental organization partner in the shorebird site network. Dr. Woodley was recently been prominently featured in a successful television program about the migratory birds of New Zealand.
Nigel Roberts

Professor Nigel Roberts is a senior faculty member of the political science department at Victoria University, Wellington. He is an authority on the political and electoral systems of New Zealand and Scandinavia, and has served as a regular television commentator on these topics. Nigel is widely regarded as the top political commentator in New Zealand, and since 1987 has served as the election-night commentator for Television New Zealand.
Gordon Ogilvie

Dr. Gordon Ogilvie is a leading biographer, historian and authority on the Province of Canterbury. His expertise on the early history of the Banks Peninsula has resulted in numerous books, while the biographies “The Riddle of Richard Pearse,” and “Denis Glover: A Life,” were finalists for the Wattie award and Montana award. Gordon received an M.A. in English from Victoria University, and is currently a prolific freelance journalist and member of the Historic Places Trust.
Meals and Lodgings
   New President
  Auckland, New Zealand 3 nights
   Shortland Court Motel
  Miranda, New Zealand 1 night
   Sudima Hotel
  Rotorua, New Zealand 1 night
   West Plaza Hotel
  Wellington, New Zealand 3 nights
   Donegal House
  Kaikoura, New Zealand 3 nights
   Mountain Beech Lodge
  Staveley, New Zealand 3 nights
   Lilybrook Motel
  Rangiora, New Zealand 2 nights
 New President
Type: Hotel
  Description: Central Location
  Contact info: 27 Victoria Street West
Auckland,   New Zealand
phone: +6493031333
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: price subject to change Arrange thru Travel Co-ordinator

 Shortland Court Motel
Type: Motel
  Contact info: Jellicoe Cresc Thames
Miranda,   New Zealand
phone: +64 7 8686506
  Smoking allowed: No

 Sudima Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 1000 Eruera Street
Rotorua,   New Zealand
phone: +6473481174
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 West Plaza Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 110 Wakefield Street
Wellington,   New Zealand
phone: +6444731440
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Donegal House
Type: Hotel
  Description: Delightful setting with private Lake
  Contact info: Schoolhouse Road
Kaikoura,   New Zealand
phone: +64 33195083
  Smoking allowed: No

 Mountain Beech Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Contact info: R.D. 1 Methven
Stavely,   New Zealand
phone: +6433030800
  Smoking allowed: No

 Lilybrook Motel
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 60 Percival Street
Rangiora,   New Zealand
phone: +6433136142
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
7 a.m. You will be staying at New President that night.
  End of Program:
5 p.m. You will be staying at Lilybrook Motel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Current Passport expiring more than 3 months after departure date
  Parking availability:
Not required- transport is by coach
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Auckland
  Nearest highway: Highway 1
  Nearest airport:  Auckland
  Transportation to site: Group transfer included in program cost for those who have purchased air through Road Scholar Travel Provider. (Alternative transport by shuttle would cost approx $NZ 40)
  From End of Program
  Location:  Rangiora
  Nearest airport:  Christchurch
  Transportation from site: Group transfer included in progream cost for those who have purchased air through Road Scholar Travel Provider. (Alternative transport by shuttle would cost approx $NZ 30)
Elevation Note: On 2 days there could be field trips with altitudes up to 4.000 ft for brief periods.

Equipment Requirements: Strong walking shoes (or boots) Walking sticks useful in some locations. Weatherproof clothing Binoculars
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1:
(Monday, October 29)
 In Transit: In flight.

Day 2:
(Tuesday, October 30)
 In Transit: In flight.

Day 3:
(Wednesday, October 31)
 Morning: Arrive Auckland Int. Airport. Coach to Cornwall Park Garden Restaurant.
 Brunch: At Cornwall Park
 Afternoon: Coach to Mt.Eden for overview of City Coach to Hotel and check-in. Introductory Lecture by Ornithologist.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at Restaurant
Accommodations: New President
Meals Included: Brunch, Dinner

Day 4: Visit to Bird Sanctuary Island
(Thursday, November 1)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Walk to ferry terminal (10 mins) Board ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island (Bird Sanctuary) for all-day guided Field trip view native birds (some rare & endangered)/
 Lunch: Packed lunch at visitor centre
 Afternoon: Free time to walk on Island. meet at ferry terminal. Ferry to Auckland & walk to hotel
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
Accommodations: New President
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: View on-shore Gannet Colony
(Friday, November 2)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Coach to Muriwai Beach area for guided field Trip with Department of Conservation Officer to view on-shore Gannet colony.
 Lunch: At local cafe
 Afternoon: Coach to Dominion Museum for guided tour of Maori & Pacific Courts.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: New President
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Visit noted Shorebird Centre
(Saturday, November 3)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Coach to Miranda Shorebird Centre. Introductory Lecture by Director & view exhibits.
 Lunch: Packed lunch at Visitor centre.
 Afternoon: Short coach trip & walk to Shorebird viewing area for guided field trip (schedule based on tidal situation) Coach to Motel & check-in.
 Dinner: At local restaurant
Accommodations: Shortland Court Motel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Scenic coach trip to Rotorua
(Sunday, November 4)
 Breakfast: At motel cafe
 Morning: Board Coach for trip to Rotorua.
 Lunch: At cafe en route
 Afternoon: Arrive Rotorua and check in to Hotel. Coach to Te Puia Maori Centre for Maori Cultural Performance & Lecture. Also guided tour of geothermal area.
 Dinner: At hotel
Accommodations: Sudima Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8:
(Monday, November 5)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Board coach for transfer to Wellington.
 Lunch: At Taihape restaurant en route
 Afternoon: Short stop at Biridng site en route (dependent on tides) Arrive Wellington Check-in to Hotel. Lecture on Political systems & Economy of New Zealand.
 Dinner: At Hotel
Accommodations: West Plaza Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Guided tour of NZ Parliament Buildings
(Tuesday, November 6)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Coach to Parliament Buildings for guided tour. Visit Old St Paul's Church & Te Papa Museum of New Zealand
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Free Time
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: West Plaza Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 10: Guided tour of Wildlife Centre viewing native birds
(Wednesday, November 7)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Board coach to Karori Wildlife Centre for guided walk to view native forest and birds.
 Lunch: At Centre cafe
 Afternoon: View Botanical Gardens and Lady Norwood Rose Garden. Return to Hotel
 Dinner: At Hotel
Accommodations: West Plaza Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Ferry trip to South Island via scenic Marlborough Sounds.
(Thursday, November 8)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Coach to Harbour Terminal to board ferry to South Island. Arrive Picton & board Coach to Kaikoura
 Lunch: En route at Brancott Winery Restaurant
 Afternoon: Arrive at Kaikoura and check in to Accommodation at Motor Lodge.
 Dinner: At Lodge Resturant
Accommodations: Donegal House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Guided off-shore launch trip to view pelagic birds.
(Friday, November 9)
 Breakfast: At Lodge
 Morning: Board coach to South Bay Harbour- board Ocean Encounter Vessel for scheduled boat trip to view Seabirds. Return to Harbour and board coach for return to Kaikoura
 Lunch: At local Restaurant
 Afternoon: Walk on Peninsula track Coach return to Lodge
 Dinner: At lodge restaurant.
Accommodations: Donegal House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13:
(Saturday, November 10)
 Breakfast: At Lodge
 Morning: Coach to inland site for walk in native bush area with local ornithologist, view forest birds.
 Lunch: Lunch at Irish Pub.
 Afternoon: Coach back to Kaikoura. Then FREE TIME.
 Dinner: With local residents at private lodge..
Accommodations: Donegal House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Coach to Staveley, in foothills of Southern Alps
(Sunday, November 11)
 Breakfast: At lodge.
 Morning: Board coach for trip to Staveley via Inland Scenic Route.
 Lunch: Lunch at Cafe en route
 Afternoon: Continue journey- arrive at Staveley and check in to private lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
Accommodations: Mountain Beech Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15:
(Monday, November 12)
 Breakfast: At Lodge
 Morning: Coach to site in forests of Southern Alps for guided field trip to view forest & mountain birds.
 Lunch: Packed lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: Return to Lodge
 Dinner: Dinner with local family.
Accommodations: Mountain Beech Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16:
(Tuesday, November 13)
 Breakfast: At lodge.
 Morning: Coach to adjacent sites for further field trip to view native birds in lake & river headwaters.
 Lunch: Packed lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: Return to Lodge
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge
Accommodations: Mountain Beech Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17:
(Wednesday, November 14)
 Breakfast: At Lodge
 Morning: Coach to Arthur's Pass for field trip to view alpine bird species
 Lunch: At local cafe
 Afternoon: Coach to Rangiora. Check in to Motel.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant
Accommodations: Lilybrook Motel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18:
(Thursday, November 15)
 Breakfast: At Motel
 Morning: Lecture and guided Field trip
 Lunch: Lunch- own choice
 Afternoon: Free Time
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner at restaurant.
Accommodations: Lilybrook Motel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 19: Visit to celebrated Antarctic Centre Departure
(Friday, November 16)
 Breakfast: At motel
 Morning: Coach to Antarctic Centre for lecture and view exhibits.
 Lunch: Lunch in Centre Cafe.
 Afternoon: Coach to Christchurch Airport for flight to U.S..A.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Personal Kiwi-Yankee Dictionary

Author: Louis Leland

Description: Take this book with you on your trip to help you untangle the sometimes perplexing and colorful local idioms.

A Traveller's History of New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands

Author: John Chambers

Description: A brisk portrait of New Zealand, and its culture, economy and society, this concise history also covers the settlement of the Pacific Islands.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

Author: Christina Thompson

Description: In this endearing, offbeat memoir, anthropologist Thompson effortlessly alternates tales of mostly disastrous early encounters with the Maori and the story of the love of her life, Seven, the Maori she married.


Author: Samuel Butler, Peter Mudford (Introduction)

Description: Butler's classic Victorian novel inspired by his experiences in 1860s New Zealand. A satirical account of a journey to an upside-down country at the end of the world, where sick people are thrown in jail and murderers are taken to the hospital.

Eyewitness Guide New Zealand

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb illustrated guide features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region overview of attractions.

Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance

Author: Lloyd Jones

Description: Dancing between New Zealand and Buenos Aires and ranging over decades, tango is the leitmotif of this earlier novel by Lloyd Jones, published here for the first time, author of Mister Pip. Like Mr. Pip, this compact, seductive novel concerns the power of storytelling.

Making Peoples, A History of the New Zealanders from Polynesian Settlement to the End of the Nineteenth Century

Author: James Belich

Description: A social history of the Maori from pre-contact to the late 19th century. With its wide, yet detailed focus, this book gives the reader a glimpse into the social forces that have formed the Maori, including the tremendous impact of colonization.

Maori Tattooing

Author: H.G. Robley

Description: A new unabridged edition of the classic, illustrated sourcebook on Maori tattooing (moko), first published in 1896. The author pays scrupulous attention to the intricate patterns, design and cultural meaning of traditional Maori tattoos.

New Zealand Map

Author: National Geographic

Description: This handy, double-sided map includes an index and insets of the Sub-Antarctic islands.

New Zealand Through Time, An Illustrated Journey Through 83 Million Years of Natural History

Author: Ronald Cometti

Description: Step back in time in this illustrated miscellany, featuring dozens of full-color paintings of giant moa, mixosaurus, and other splendid extinct creatures.

New Zealand Wildlife

Author: Julian Fitter

Description: Julian Fitter's splendid introduction to the nature and wildlife of New Zealand features succinct chapters on geography and geology, history, habitats and wildlife, along with hundreds of color photographs.

New Zealand, A Natural History

Author: Tui De Roy, Mark Jones

Description: Having relocated many years ago to the beaches of Golden Bay on the North Island, Tui and Mark present the wildlife, habitats and splendor of their homeland in this photographic celebration.

Once Were Warriors

Author: Alan Duff

Description: This controversial best-selling novel follows the fate of a Maori woman in what appears to be modern-day Auckland, an insightful look at social problems of the Maori in contemporary New Zealand.

Presenting New Zealand, An Illustrated History

Author: Philip Temple

Description: Organized from North to South, this oversized paperback, featuring large, full-color archival illustrations on every page, is a profile of the island nation, its history, people and nature.

Slipping Into Paradise, Why I Live in New Zealand

Author: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Description: In this far-ranging travelogue, Masson (who wrote a series of books on the emotional lives of animals) combines his travels and tales with history, riffs on the kiwis, nature and society.

Southern Exposure

Author: Chris Duff

Description: Subtitled "A Solo Sea Kayaking Journey Around New Zealand's South Island."


Author: Katherine Mansfield

Description: The three marvelous, long stories in this collection constitute the beginnings of a novel based on Mansfield's childhood in Wellington.

The Bone People

Author: Keri Hulme

Description: Set on the South Island, this powerful novel brings together three troubled individuals who represent Maori and European traditions in contemporary New Zealand.

The Earth Machine, The Science of a Dynamic Planet

Author: James D. Webster, Edmond A. Mathez

Description: An informative, illustrated overview of the earth and its fiery origins by curators of the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Planet Earth.

The Future Eaters, An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People

Author: Tim F. Flannery

Description: An engaging ecological history of Australasia, focusing on human impact on local environments and animal populations in the recent geologic past.

The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand

Author: Barrie Heather

Description: The revised compact edition of the classic field guide, featuring 74 color plates by Derek Onley.

The Happy Isles of Oceania

Author: Paul Theroux

Description: The peripatetic author flies off to Australia and New Zealand with a kayak and ends up exploring much of Melanesia and Polynesia, including Tonga, Fiji and the Marquesas in this wickedly funny, wide-ranging tale.

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