Trip report: New Zealand 2011 by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Leseberg.

The indigenous tribes of New Zealand, the Maori, call their land ‘Aotearoa’, or ‘Long White Cloud’. On this particular trip we were given ample reminder of why this is so, as we spent the trip variously dodging rain, snow, wind and sometimes hail! Indeed on any trip to New Zealand, you should be aware that you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature, and on this trip we certainly paid our dues. The weather unfortunately cost us a couple of birds, but we were still rewarded for our efforts with some fantastic scenery, some fantastic experiences and of course many of New Zealand’s fantastic birds.

As usual the seabirds were a highlight, with pelagic trips off Kaikoura and Stewart Island throwing up six species and nine taxa of albatross, along with a good variety of other tubenoses. We dodged rain and snow to find one of the world’s rarest waders, the Black Stilt, and also managed to see three species of kiwi and three species of penguin including the breeding endemic Fiordland Penguin. Throw in most of New Zealand’s breeding land birds, and it was a good trip; one I’d like to repeat next year, hopefully with a bit more sun!

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