Free encounter with New Zealand animals
The inevitable sheep
New Zealand is reputed to be the sheep country, the production is so intensive that there are almost 8 times more sheep than human beings on these islands. A number that can make laugh and tends to evolve, of course, every year. In any case, it’s certain that anyone who discovers this green country will not be able to miss its flocks of white wool.
The countless birds
New Zealand is also a sanctuary for birds, a phenomenon that can be explained by this islands isolation that has kept a good number of pests out of the way. Even if today some rodents, in particular possums, have been inadvertently introduced and proliferate, there are no other big predators to fear. Among all the bird species to discover here are oystercatchers, wood pigeons, pukekos, weka, tui, fantails, and for the rarest, but nevertheless emblematics, the legendary Kiwi, the keas, the kaka …
It’s possible to meet these birds in the wild, for the lucky ones, but at well-defined geographical and strategic points.
Here are the points where we were able to meet some of these birds :
South island : Dunedin in Otago area and Kaikoura in Canterbury area. There is a paid center in Dunedin but it’s possible to park there and with a little patience see the sky giant without having to payIn Kaikoura, if you don’t take the boat for the open sea, it’s possible to see albatrosses from the coastal road and nature reserve between Oaro and Kaikoura.
It’s only in the south island that we had the chance to meet the little blue penguin and the antipode penguin (yellow-eyed). Particularly present on the east coast between Christchurch and Dunedin, it can also be found in the Marlborough Sounds and on Stewart Island. We met the blue Penguin at Separation Point in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park, which is not a common sight, and we met the yellow-eyes Penguin at Katiki Point, a nature reserve where it’s easy to observe them.
That took us a long time to meet the pretty mountain parrot yet easily observable on the south island mountainous points. Bad luck for us, we always missed them, until that day in Arthur Pass. It’s on the “death corner” car park that we had the pleasure to discover this colorful animal and his troublemaker behaviour.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to see them but, for information, it’s always possible to go to meet them. To do so, nothing better thant a night hike in the heart of nature reserves, equipped with red light headlamps, to observe them without frightening them. For the rest, patience and courage !
The first time we met New Zealand fur seals we were in Wellington area at Cape Palliser and we became real kids again. Then, on the southern island, it becomes almost banal to meet these little animals all along the coast. Fur seals are suspicious and can become aggressive on land if they feel threatened, however they are curious and quick to have fun in the water, so don’t panic. If you have the opportunity don’t hesitate to swim quietly with them with a mask and snorkel. Where we met them: North Island: Cape Palliser, Wellington, South Island: Abel Tasman, Cape Fouldwin, Mildford Sound, the Catlins National Park coast, Nugget Point, Otago Peninsula, Shag Point, Katiki point, Kaikoura …
If they only look like big sand piles when they are lying on the beaches, the sea lions are still impressive because of their imposing size and power in the water. It’s better not to be in their way when they return to rest at the end of the day on the beaches, we would clearly not make weight. We went especially to meet them on the South Island in Surat and Cannibal Bay and also watched them at Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula.
We had the chance to see and swim with 3 different dolphins species, one extremely rare since it exists only in this region of the world, it’s the Hector dolphin. North Island, the Bay of Island is a famous point, we have seen our first common dolphins in the Mangonui village harbour. South Island, we met the Hector dolphins at McCracken’s lookout on the south coast, after that we saw and swim with them at Curio bay, then it’s the common and dusky dolphins that we met, this time in Kaikoura.
We will not talk here about the famous weta, the biggest cricket in the world, or sanflies that will come to you furtively and naturally, but rather glow worms. Besides the Waitomo Caves, there are free places where it’s easy to see these specimens, such as McLaren Park in the Bay of Plenty.
Here are the places where we observed them without difficulty : North Island, in the northland at the Waipu Cave, and the Abbey Caves in Whangarei. South Island in Hokitika, after dark, on the vegetal wall of Dell.
In conclusion it’s not always necessary to spend miles and heundreds to meet wild animals including glowworms and dolphins. If however you had only one expense to make, we can’t advise you too much swimming with seals or swimming with wild dolphins in Kaikoura. On this tour, in addition to the dolphins, we had the chance to see orcas and albatross, a triple count on this only expense. For those who dream of meeting the whales and sperm whales it will also be necessary to pay for it in Kaikoura but for your biggest satisfaction and with a 99% visibility guarantee. Have fun little elephants !