7 of the best places to see New Zealand's famous wildlife
Looking for New Zealand wildlife? New Zealand wildlife tours are the best way to spot our famous native fauna both in protected sanctuaries and the wild.
Unique and accessible, these guided experiences provide an insight into the habitat, lifestyle and conservation efforts being made to preserve these species — as well as showcasing the beauty of New Zealand.
Want to see, our national bird, the kiwi?
Go to Zealandia. A fully fenced eco-sanctuary with over forty different species of native bird, Zealandia is home to the little spotted Kiwi. We recommend the popular night tour which offers you the chance to see this shy bird in its natural environment.
Want to see Albatross?
Go to the Otago Peninsula. Home to the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross in the world, the Otago Peninsula is renowned globally for its spectacular views and wildlife. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre to learn about these birds and view their nesting grounds from the observatory.
Want to see little blue penguins?
Go to Oamaru. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony offers a chance to see the world's smallest penguins in their natural environment. An evening tour of the colony is best, as you will get to see the penguins arrive home to their nests from a day spent fishing.
Want to see sheep?
Go to any rural area! But for the complete experience, visit Sheep World in Rotorua, where you’ll learn about how sheep in New Zealand are farmed for their wool. You’ll gain a fascinating insight into a working farm, learn what happens to wool once it has been shorn and see interactive displays on rural life. (Note: we know calling sheep "wildlife" is a stretch but, as a country, we owe them a lot; and they make the list by sheer weight of numbers anyway — six of them for every permanent human resident, down from 22 per person in the early 1980s.)
Want see Gannets?
Go to Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay. Discover the largest and most accessible mainland breeding colony of Gannets in the world, located at Cape Kidnappers. Take an eco-tour via tractor to the Black Reef Colony, where you’ll have the chance to see thousands of Gannets in their natural habitat.
Want to see dolphins?
Go to the Bay of Islands. Located in the ‘Winterless North’ The Bay of Islands mild climate means dolphins are present in these waters year round. There are many tours that allow you to see the dolphins close up, but we recommend one of the half day eco-tours where you may have the opportunity to swim with the dolphins as well.
Want to see whales?
Go to Kaikoura. A huge variety of whales, fur seals, and dolphins live permanently in the surrounding waters due to the coastal seas teeming with nutrients. Kaikoura is a world renowned marine reserve and attracts biologists from all around the globe. Choose a marine life encounter by boat, plane, or choose some binoculars and simply watch from the shore.