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  • Photograph of Royal Penguin

    Royal Penguin on Macquarie Island by Jon Hornbuckle.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Best Birds and other wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand


    Subantarctic Islands Endemics 13 (Snares, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes and Bounty Islands)
    Auckland Teal, Campbell Teal, Auckland Rail (Adams and Disappointment), Erect-crested Penguin, Campbell Shag, Bounty Shag, Auckland Shag, Snares Snipe, Auckland (Subantarctic) Snipe (Auckland, Campbell and Antipodes), Antipodes Parakeet, Reischek’s (Red-crowned) Parakeet (Antipodes), Snares Tomtit and Snares Fernbird.

    Macquarie Island (Australia) Endemics 2
    Royal Penguin and Macquarie Shag.

    Chatham Islands Endemics 8
    Chatham Pigeon, Chatham Shag, Pitt (Island) Shag, Chatham Oystercatcher, Chatham Snipe, Chatham Parakeet, Chatham Gerygone and Black Robin.

    (Chatham (White-capped) Albatross breeds only on Pyramid Rock (mostly Sep-Apr) and ranges at sea across the south Pacific to the Humboldt Current off Chile, Chatham Petrel breeds mainly on Southeast Island (mostly Jan-May) and ranges to the east Pacific off Chile and Peru, and Magenta Petrel, also known as Taiko, breeds mostly Dec-Apr and ranges to waters off the Juan Fernandez Islands and Pitcairn in the south Pacific)

    New Zealand Endemics
    Yellow-eyed Penguin, Shore Plover, Red-fronted Parakeet, Tui, New Zealand Bellbird, New Zealand Fantail, New Zealand Tomtit, New Zealand Fernbird and New Zealand Pipit. Also a chance of New Zealand Falcon and Yellow-fronted Parakeet.

    (New Zealand Storm-petrel breeds in north New Zealand (mostly Feb-Jul) and ranges at sea as far as Australia and Fiji)


    Australia and New Zealand 11
    Fiordland Penguin, Snares Penguin, Little (Blue) Penguin, Fluttering Shearwater, Hutton’s Shearwater, Australasian Gannet, Great Pied Cormorant, Double-banded Plover (mostly Nov-Mar), Black-shouldered (Masked) Lapwing and White-fronted Tern.

    Other specialities
    King, Gentoo and Southern Rockhopper Penguins, Antipodean, Wandering, Northern Royal, Southern Royal, Light-mantled, (Northern and Southern) Buller’s, Salvin’s, White-capped, Campbell, Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses, (Latham's) White-faced Storm-petrel, Cook’s, Mottled and Westland Petrels, and Buller’s Shearwater.

    Pacific Black Duck, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmar, Blue, Cape, Great-winged, Soft-plumaged, White-chinned and White-headed Petrels, Antarctic, Broad-billed, Fairy and Fulmar Prions, Flesh-footed, Sooty and Subantarctic (Little) Shearwaters, Black-bellied, Grey-backed and Wilson’s Storm-petrels, Common Diving-petrel, White-faced Heron, Swamp Harrier, Kelp and Silver (Red-billed) Gulls, Antarctic Tern, Brown Skua, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Welcome Swallow and Silvereye. Also a chance of Grey and Kerguelen Petrels, and Short-tailed Shearwater. Introduced species include Weka, Eurasian Skylark, Common Starling, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch and European Goldfinch.

    Southern Elephant Seal, New Zealand Fur Seal and New Zealand (Hooker’s) Sealion. Also a chance of Killer, Sperm, Gray’s Beaked and Long-finned Pilot Whales, (Common) Bottlenose and Southern Right Whale Dolphins, and Subantarctic Fur Seal.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    Photograph of Auckland Shag

    Auckland Shag by Jon Hornbuckle.

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    Cruises usually operate in November.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by B Heather and H Robertson. Penguin, 2015 (Fourth Edition).

    The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by H Robertson and B Heather. Penguin, 2015 (Second Edition).

    Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide by P Scofield and B Stephenson. Auckland University Press, 2013.

    Birds of New Zealand: Locality Guide by S Chambers. Arun Books, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand by J Fitter. Helm, 2010.

    Bradt Travel Guide: New Zealand Wildlife by J Fitter. Bradt, 2009.

    Apps etc.

    Birds of New Zealand.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    Many trip reports, some for the Subantarctic Islands, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Subantarctic Islands. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Subantarctic Islands' below.

    Bird and wildlife guides specializing in the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Ship-board accommodation in the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Subantarctic Islands in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.