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Trip Report – March 2023


This was just a brief visit to the North Island of New Zealand as we were really here to pick up the Western Pacific Odyssey to Japan (see other trip report). It was a very relaxed trip with only 3 target species remaining NZ Falcon, North Island Brown Kiwi and Long-tailed Cuckoo.

New Zealand Pigeon

Day 1 – We arrived in Auckland, picked up a car and drove straight to our first accommodation, Woodhouse Mountain Lodge. Really just took the afternoon to rest and remind ourselves of the more common species – although finding something that isn’t introduced can be tricky!! NZ Pigeon, Tui, Silvereye, the ever present NZ Fantail, NZ Pipit and Grey Gerygone were about it but it was a lovely spot and we enjoyed a nice relaxing start. Woodhouse Mountain Lodge

Day 2 – Quiet breakfast enjoying the lodge and then a drive up to KeriKeri with a stop at Waipu Reserve, on the coast, for some shorebirds. We had been here before so nothing new but lots of great birds -Variable Oystercatcher, Banded Dotterel, Northern Red-breasted Plover, White-fronted Tern, Reef egret and Bar-tailed Godwit. On to Keri Keri and our new accommodation.

Headed out in the evening to a great spot for Northern Brown Kiwi. We heard them – and Morepork – but no luck seeing them. Night at Moon Gate Villa.

Northern Brown Kiwi

Day 3 – Lazy day around Keri Keri – resting up for our 2nd night excursion for the Kiwi. This time we had good luck and saw 2 of these fascinating creatures. What a great bird!

Day 4 – Touristy day stopping at a number of spots on the west coast as we drove down to Auckland.  Some fabulous scenery and an easy drive. The highlight was the 2000 year old Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta.

Arrived in Auckland in time for a nice dinner. Night at Fitzroy Hotel

Day 5 – We wanted another look at Wrybill while we were here ad so went down to Miranda Shorebirds Centre. What a spectacle!! Thousands of Bar-tailed Godwit, Southern Pied Oystercatchers, Wrybills, Swans and Paradise Shelduck. Nothing new for us but just a great spot to hang out with the scope around high tide. Night at Fitzroy Hotel.

Red-breasted Dotterel

Day 6 – Drove down to Turangi to meet our friend Sav Saville (runs Wrybill Tours – great birding tour company) for lunch at the Hydro Café and to spend some time with him. The weather did not cooperate but we did go to a reliable spot for Fernbird and another for Blue Buck – both great species. Checked out an area for Australasian Bittern but it is a bit late in the year to luck out with that.

Dinner at the Hare & Copper – night at River Birches lodge.

Day 7 – it poured all day today so after meeting Sav for breakfast and another visit we just had a lazy day at the lodge. Night at River Birches

Day 8 – Started to drive back to Auckland. We wanted to check out Pureora Forest for Long-tailed Cuckoo and NZ Falcon. We drove straight to the Forest Tower and lucked out with a pair of falcons within minutes. No luck with the cuckoo but good views of NI Robin and Kaka as well.

That was really it for birding on this trip – it was then into Auckland to await our boat.

Blue Duck


Woodhouse Mountain Lodge

Moon Gate Villa – Keri Keri

Fitzroy Hotel, Auckland

River Birches Lodge, Turangi

Hilton Hotel, Auckland

Guides & Resources


Wrybill Birding Tours are a great group and a high recommend – we didn’t need them for this but if you are going to New Zealand then check them out, you won’t be disappointed!

Field Guide:

The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand – Barrie Heather & Hugh Robertson

Bird Lists: