New Zealand - October - November 2022

Published by Greg Roberts (friarbird.roberts AT

Participants: Greg Roberts


With Glenn Scherf. Not a full-on birding trip but cleaning up a handful of lifers and our first trip overseas for three years due to Covid. We started off with a couple of days in Christchurch before picking up a hire car and heading to Arthur’s Pass for 2 days. Great Spotted Kiwi was heard here and Keas in the village were impressive.

Heading west we teamed up with Paparoa Wildlife Trust staff to track down near-adult Great Spotted Kiwis kept in a “creche” - an area of forest protected by a predator-proof fence - near Atarau. We saw 3 birds soon be released into the wild. Further west we had a 4-day stay in the delightful town of Punakaiki. Here I heard several more Great Spotted Kiwis and saw one.

Also of interest here is the world’s only nesting colony of Westland Petrel. I saw 50-60 birds flying in from the ocean after sunset to their nesting grounds in the hills behind the coast. I also went out with Bruce Menteath, who runs tours to the colony and showed me a well-fledged juvenile in a burrow.

Our next stop was Picton on the shores of Marlborough Sounds for a 6-day stay. We took a boat ride to Blumine Island where we were dropped off and picked up two hours days later. On the way we saw New Zealand King Shags on rocky outcrops in Princess Charlotte Sound. Once ashore on the island we found the two main targets – South Island Saddleback and Orange-fronted Parakeet – within 10 minutes. Both were vocal and easy to find.

We crossed Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry, seeing several Westland Petrels. We had 4 days in Wellington. Here I joined a public night tour at the Zealandia Sanctuary on the city’s outskirts, finding a Little Spotted Kiwi which offered good views. The tour itself was disappointing, being mostly in daylight or twilight and looking at things that can be seen during the day. While I was trying to find out what the kiwi was up to, the guide was busy telling us for the fourth time about their kaka feeding stations. We finished the trip by doing the all-day pleasant train ride to Auckland for a final couple of nights.

Species Lists


Dusky Dolphin (several from boat near Picton including females with young).

BIRDS (*denotes lifer):

*Great Spotted Kiwi (a total of 7 heard at Arthur’s Pass, Paparoa National Park tracks, Bullock Creek Road – where 1 was seen briefly - and the main road south of Punakaiki),

*Little Spotted Kiwi (1 at Zealandia),
*Westland Petrel (50-60 crossing coast 5km south of Punakaiki; 1 well-fledged young in nesting burrow; 4 seen from ferry in Cook Strait),

Fluttering Shearwater (common Marlborough Sounds),
Hutton’s Shearwater (several Cook Strait),
Sooty Shearwater (several Marlborough Sounds),

*New Zealand King Shag (15 in Princess Charlotte Sound: 5 on 1 rocky outcrop, 9 on a second outcrop, 1 flying near Blumine Island),

Spotted Shag (widespread, several nesting Princess Charlotte Sound),

Great Cormorant,
Pied Cormorant,
Little Pied Cormorant,
Little Black Cormorant,
Australasian Gannet,
Great Crested Grebe,
Hoary-headed Grebe,
Brown Teal (2 at Zealandia),
New Zealand Scaup,
Paradise Shelduck,
Grey Teal,
Australasian Shoveler,
Silver (Red-billed) Gull,
Black-billed Gull (small numbers at scattered sites),
Royal Spoonbill,
White-faced Heron,
White-fronted Tern (common, breeding colony at close quarters at Pancake Rocks near Punakaiki),
Caspian Tern,
Variable Oystercatcher (common), Double-banded Plover,
Bar-tailed Godwit,
Pied Stilt,
Masked Lapwing,
Morepork (common),
Sacred Kingfisher,
New Zealand Pigeon (common),
Long-tailed Cuckoo (1 at Punakaiki), Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (nominate race 1 at Punakaiki, 1 at Zealandia),

*Orange-fronted (Mahlberg’s) Parakeet (2 pairs on Blumine Island, including 1 bird entering nesting hollow),

Red-crowned Parakeet (a few New Zealandia),
Kea (common at Arthur’s Pass),
Kaka (common around Wellington), [Takahe (a pair at Zealandia, where they are attempting to breed them)], Australasian Swamphen,
Eurasian Coot,
Weka (common and widespread; much more so than during my several previous visits to NZ),
Swamp Harrier,
New Zealand Falcon (1 Arthur’s Pass: 1 east of Christchurch),

*South Island Saddleback (4 on Blumine Island),

North Island Saddleback (2 at Zealandia),
Stitchbird (1 at Zealandia),
Tui (abundant),
New Zealand Bellbird (common), Silvereye,
Welcome Swallow,
Brown Creeper (1 Arthur’s Pass), Rifleman (2 Zealandia),
Grey Gerygone,
Grey (New Zealand) Fantail,
South Island Robin (several Zealandia),

INTRODUCED: California Quail, Ring-necked Pheasant, Wild Turkey, Mallard, Canada Goose, Black Swan, Rock Dove, House Sparrow, Common Myna, Common Blackbird, Eurasian Skylark, Yellowhammer, Common (Lesser) Redpoll, Dunnock, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Australian Mapie. Song Thrush, Common Starling.