Wildlife Spotlight: Meet the Snuggly Side of New Zealand

When New Zealand springs to mind, your thoughts naturally wander to wine trails, majestic landscapes and tours to take your breath away. Short of leaving your phone flat from too many pictures, the Land of the Long White Cloud delivers experiences you’ve never dreamed of and some you’ve obsessed over… but there’s more to our island home than meets the eye. It should come as no surprise New Zealand has a cute and cuddly side hidden in the undergrowth of its ancient forests, so let’s take a moment to meet Aotearoa’s wild residents. Join us as we count down our favourite wildlife tours.

Frolic with Fur Seals

Two Seal Pups

Our slippery, flippered friends can be found in numerous places along the New Zealand coastline, delighting visitors of both islands with their year-round antics and occasionally lazy ways. On land, they’re sleepy, sun-bathing specialists, but in water they’re really something else – fast, fun and full of mischief. The best place to see these cunningly cute creatures?

Doubtful Sound takes out the top – the unsung cousin of Milford Sound, Doubtful is a slightly wilder place, attracting smaller groups and overnight cruisers steadily throughout the year. If you’re touring the northern tip of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is another ideal spot for a touch of seal time – sightings are common, the photos are spectacular and the scenery alone will transport you to a calmer, happier headspace.

Tour Tip: Why not book a spot on our 11 Day Southern Discovery Tour and treat yourself to everything southern New Zealand has to offer?

Spend Time with the Kindly Kiwi

The Brown Kiwi

Everywhere you turn on your New Zealand holiday, you’ll spy signs of a collective love for our national bird. Timid and sweet, the quiet Kiwi is a land dweller of the underbrush variety; it doesn’t sweep the skies or impress passerby with an imposing wing-span, but it does warm hearts at first-sight. All five species. That’s right, there’s more than one Kiwi bird – the Brown Kiwi, the Great Spotted Kiwi, the Little Spotted Kiwi, the Rowi and the Tokoeka – and it’s possible to see them all in one trip. The Kiwi trail will take you from the crown of the North Island to the mountain ranges of the South, transforming your getaway into a wild, wonder-filled experience from arrival to departure.
Where to find them…

  • The Brown Kiwi: Lowland and coastal native forest and subalpine areas in the North Island
  • The Great Spotted Kiwi: Sub-alpine zones of North West Nelson, the Paparoa Range, and Arthur’s Pass
  • The Little Spotted Kiwi: Kapiti Island
  • The Rowi: Ōkarito forest and surrounds in South Westland, predator-free islands of Marlborough Sounds
  • The Tokoeka: Haast, Fiordland, and Rakiura (Stewart Island)

Take a Break with a Tuatara

NZ’s own Tuatara

We’ve covered wings and flippers, leaving the best for last. New Zealand doesn’t have a reputation for reptiles– we leave that to Australia – but we do have a few to note, including the prehistoric Tuatara, a living fossil whose closest relative died out with the dinosaurs at the sudden end of the Cretaceous period. Don’t think of a Tuatara as just another lizard – although reptilian, the Tuatara is not a lizard at all; they have no external ears, revel in the cooler months and sleep during the day, unlike their crawling counterparts. They are unique, the very last of their kind on the planet.

Fun Fact: Underneath those head scales, Tuatara’s have a third eye. Experts aren’t certain what purpose it serves, but it’s thought to detect the time of day and seasonal fluctuations, like an in-built weatherman and timepiece combined.

How and where to see the Tuatara…
Secure your place on the 8 Day Spectacular North Tour and enjoy a day the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre; in addition to the Tuatara and the North Island Brown Kiwi (including Manukura, the rare white kiwi), you spend time with lively kaka bird, long fin eels and countless other creatures native to NZ.

Contact our experienced New Zealand Specialists and take a safe walk on the wild side for your next adventure. When was the last time you lost yourself in nature?