Wildlife in New Zealand

Most New Zealand tourism on offer doesn’t do justice to this theme. We consider wildlife to be an important part of the country.

Except for the rare, but nevertheless endearing, kiwi birds that are mostly hidden in the remote native forest, wildlife in New Zealand revolves around a strong ocean connection and kilometres of coastlines.

Hector’s dolphins and yellow-eyed penguins are fascinating endemic species. Whales, Fiordland crested penguins, blue penguins, fur seals, albatrosses and many birds are also worth being on your watch list.

We could add possums to the list, but seeing them alive is rare - most of them are dead on the road.

You might find New Zealanders are little harsh on the subject. They are fond of saying that a good possum is a dead possum. Introducing them to New Zealand for their fur in 1838 was a mistake as they have flourished here without any predators to keep their numbers in check. They are now a major scourge on the country's flora and fauna, each possum eating around 1kg of new plant growth per night. They also attack native bird's nests, eating their eggs.

Visiting the habitats of rare or endangered wild animals such as the different species of penguins, seals, whales and dolphins will take you to magical and isolated places. It will give you an opportunity to visit towns and cities that are often overlooked, like Akaroa, Oamaru, Napier, Dunedin or Invercargill.

By participating in the following activities you will be helping to support both public and private initiatives looking to safeguard and protect our natural heritage.  

Note. These tours are not in zoos but rely on the presence and behaviour of wild animals. You will not always have the same sightings and very occasionally you may not get to see the intended species. It's all part of the adventure and excitement!

Get Inspired

  • New Zealand Wildlife

    10 Best Spots for New Zealand Wildlife Lovers

    New Zealand isn't particularly well known overseas for its wildlife but there are a wide variety of animals to see. The animal life that you can find in the North and South islands is quite different so if you're a big nature lover we recommend exploring them both.

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  • Kayaking & bird watching in the Marlborough region

    Have fun on this easy two hour kayak safari, to photograph the royal spoonbill and find out more about the other birds of this wetland habitat.

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  • Getting Off The Beaten Track in the Catlins

    You can't get much more off the beaten path in New Zealand than the Catlins Coast and its remoteness is a huge part of its charm. It's a reasonably small and fairly isolated region tucked away down in the south east corner of the South Island, below Dunedin and to the east of Invercargill

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  • The Banks Track: A Local Secret

    Banks Track is incredibly varied; from the elevated farmland at the start of the track that overlooks Akaroa and the Caldera, to the bays we passed through to end up in the bush. This walk is well-known amongst locals but escapes the attention of most overseas tourists.

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  • Auckland Whale and Dolphin Watching

    The most popular place for whale watching in New Zealand is Kaikoura but we would like to venture that an even better one is the city where most travellers arrive: Auckland. Laura explains why.

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  • Red Pohutukawa on the beach

    Kiwi Spotting Day Tours from Auckland

    Just an hour north of Auckland is a special opportunity to spot kiwis in their natural environment. Pam and Tristan from Habitat Tours got in contact with our team in October 2014, to explain their idea of proposing kiwi spotting tours and we jumped on this incredible experience.

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  • Black Cat Cruises

    Swimming with Hector Dolphins in Akaroa

    Akaroa is one of our favourite destinations in New Zealand, and sure we have a few Frenchies in the office but in all objectivity, this village is truly a little-known gem.

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  • Discovering Kapiti Island Tours

    Kapiti Island Tours is an experience that falls into many of the New Zealand categories that we choose to highlight including Maori culture, wildlife and private conservation initiatives.

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  • Penguin Place

    Yellow-Eyed Penguin Tours in Otago

    The Otago Peninsula is known for its wildlife and is one of the best places to see the endemic yellow-eyed penguin or "hoiho". There are several companies offering tours but our approach is always to work with the provider who can benefit the most from the financial support.

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In Feb to March this year, we had a wonderful month touring in NZ and all with the help of Romain at OUAT. It did all feel a bit like a leap of faith, but OUAT helped us plan a ... - Jane Chaplin, UK

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