New Zealand Wildlife

January 21-30, 2011

All photos are Marshall Faintich

The second half of our Tauck tour took us to both the north and south islands of New Zealand. After spending 12 days in Australia, we were ready for new adventures. I am fairly confident of most of the species identifications; however, as most of the species I saw were new to me, I would appreciate any comments if you have a different opinion.

This web page highlights the wildlife that I saw in New Zealand. There is a separate web page for Australian wildlife. As I took 3000+ wildlife photos, these two pages only show one, or perhaps two photos of each species. More photos of these species can be seen on my wildlife photography web pages.Click here to go to my New Zealand wildlife photography page

Auckland; January 21-22, 2011

We boarded a ferry for a ride to Waiheke Island where we saw Pukeko, New Zealand Pigeon, Blackbird, and Tui. There were lots of Red-billed Gulls, Black-billed Gulls, and Black-backed Gulls. I saw a Yellowhammer from the tour bus, but was not able to get a photo. During lunch at Mudbrick Vineyard, a Song Thrush walked right into the dining room. On the return ferry ride, I saw Common Diving Petrels and Buller's Shearwaters.


New Zealand Pigeon

Red-billed Gull


Buller's Shearwater

Fluttering Shearwater

Alice and I spent the afternoon walking in Auckland's shopping area, and then walked back to our hotel through the city park in a fairly heavy rain. In the park I saw a couple of Feral Geese, Mallards and Grey (same as Australian Pacific Black) Ducks, Starlings, another Song Thrush, and Common Mynas.

Feral Geese

Rotorua; January 23, 2011

It rained, and it rained, and the wind blew; did I mention that it rained? When we went to bed the night before in Auckland, the forecast for today was 6 to 10 inches of rain and 62+ mph winds. There was a cyclone in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, and another cyclone north of New Zealand - the weather we got was not at the level of a cyclone, but we still got very wet. I saw a few Song Thrushes and Starlings.

Spotted Shag

Marlborough Sounds; January 24, 2011

And then it really rained! At 3 a.m., the power went out in our hotel, and the hotel water supply was on electric pumps, so we did not have any water, either - although there was plenty of water outside! But it got better quickly. The tour took a charter flight on a Whisperjet to Blenheim and the Marlborough Sounds on New Zealand's South Island. When we landed at the airport and on the bus ride to Marlborough Sounds, I got some quick views and a few blurry photos of Spur-winged Plovers. Also got a couple of out-of-focus shots of Australasian Harriers from the bus. But the boat ride on Marlborough Sounds offered up a variety of birds.

New Zealand birders use the name Shag for what Australians (and others) refer to as Cormorants. On the sounds I saw Pied, Little Black, Little (Pied), and Spotted Shags. Also saw Australasian Gannet, Black-billed and Black-backed Gulls, Black Swan, Variable Oystercatcher, Eurasian Goldfinch, and an unidentified duck - probably a Mallard.

Pied Shag

Little Black Shag

Variable Oystercatcher

Eurasian Goldfinch

Black-backed Gull

Australasian Gannet

Back to the airport and a Whisperjet ride to Wellington, the New Zealand capital, located on the southern end of the north island.

Wellington; January 25, 2011

At the Wellington harbour and in a nearby park, I saw these species: Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Starling, Mallard and Grey Ducks, lots of gulls, White-fronted Tern, Silvereye, Rock Pigeon, Welcome Swallow, and a good look at a Tui.

Greenfinch juvenile

House Sparrows taking a bath


White-fronted Tern



Welcome Swallow

January 26, 2011: Milford Sound

We flew from Wellington back to the south island to Te Anau for a two hour long, scenic bus ride and cruise on Milford Sound. Yesterday's sunshine was replaced by steady rains, but that was not all bad - the heavy rain from earlier in the week and today produced numerous and massive waterfalls all along the mountains. We saw Black-winged Gull, Dusky Dolphins, and fur seals. A New Zealand Kea Parrot pecked at automobile and bus tires of vehicles stopped on the road to the sound.



Dusky Dolphins

Fur Seal

After the two hour return bus ride, we were supposed to fly in the afternoon from Te Anau to Queenstown, but low clouds forced us to take another two hour bus ride to get there. But we saw a lot of scenery and animals along the way. Fields of sheep, cows, and even farm-raised white-tailed deer were everywhere. We saw New Zealand Scaup, Spur-winged Plover, and at least 30 Australasian Harriers along the way, but it was difficult at best to get good photos traveling on the highway.

Australasian Harrier

Spur-winged Plovers

Australasian Harrier

January 27-28, 2011: Queenstown

Queenstown, NZ - one of the most beautiful places on the earth! High mountains surround the 56 mile long Lake Wakatipu. There were beautifil birds in the lake, as well as in the surrounding mountains. Water birds that I saw included all three gulls, Australasian Crested Grebe, Little Shag, Black Shag, Mallard and Grey Ducks, New Zealand Scaup, and Paradise Shelduck. Land birds were Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Redpoll?, Bellbird, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Silvereye, Yellowhammer, and Grey Warbler.

Australasian Crested Grebe

Australasian Crested Grebe

Little Shag

Black Shag

New Zealand Scaup male

Juvenile and adult Black-billed Gulls

This Grey Warbler seems to have more yellow in its plumage than is shown in my field guide, but the darker tail with white tips is a key field mark.

Grey Warbler

Grey Warbler

I think that this bird is a Redpoll, but its bill looks too long, and its crown is not very red. However, the dark throat patch seems to rule out New Zealand Pipit or Skylark.




This Bellbird really threw me - it's not supposed to have a gold forehead.


Mystery solved! My New Zealand birding friend Kerry R. suggested that the gold forehead color is pollen from the flax flowers it is supping on.


January 28-30, 2011: Christchurch

The river Avon and the Royal Botanical Gardens were my last wildife photography locations on this adventure. I saw Paradise Shelduck, Grey and Mallard Ducks and interbred species, New Zealand Scaup, Little Shag, Red-billed Gull, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Dunnock, and House Sparrow.

Paradise Shelduck female

Paradise Shelduck male

Mallard variety

New Zealand Scaup female

Mallard variety

Grey Duck

Greenfinches female and male



Song Thrush

Click here to go to Australian wildlife blog page

E-mail comments on this report

Return to blog page home