Off the coast, spy some of New Zealand’s wonderful marine mammals, including playful dolphins, sleepy seals, beautiful orca, and giant sperm whales.
Birdlife is varied and brilliant, from the nocturnal kiwi to the cheeky green kea and the tūī with its distinctive song. Try spotting these natural wonders in the wild or get up close at these popular destinations.
The Bay of Islands is a stunning spot for a scenic cruise - often with special guests. Keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and occasionally orca while you take in the views. Knowledgeable local skippers can provide commentary about the marine mammals and the conservation efforts being made to protect them.
Auckland boasts a significant amount of wildlife despite being New Zealand’s largest city. Visit the rain forests and beaches of the west for native flora and fauna, and Muriwai’s gannet colony. Kayakers in the harbour may meet the resident dolphins and penguins. Offshore, Tiritiri Matangi island sanctuary is home to some of the country’s rarest wild birds.
Rotorua is home to the Agrodome, which offers a farm show complete with sheep shearing and hands-on experiences. It also hosts the National Kiwi Hatchery, which offers a guided tour on New Zealand's national icon. Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park hosts a range of New Zealand wildlife, native birds, and trout, as well as a pride of lions.
Wellington possesses the world’s first fully fenced urban eco-sanctuary, Zealandia, named one of TIME Magazine’s World's 100 Greatest Places in 2019. Its lush 225 hectares are a great place to spot takahē, tuatara, wēta, tīeke/saddleback, kererū and hihi. Nearby Kāpiti Island is a tranquil island bird sanctuary and nature reserve, with many rare birds.
Kaikoura’s rugged coastline has a huge attraction: resident sperm whales. Other inhabitants include humpback and blue whales, so enjoy a whale watching experience by either sea or air. You can also swim with New Zealand fur seals, encounter rare Hector’s and Dusky dolphins, or take a tour to see Royal albatross and a variety of seabirds.
Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre has an indoor/outdoor viewing area to watch its plucky rescue kororā (Little Blue Penguin). In Akaroa’s magnificent harbour you may spot rare and friendly Hector’s dolphins, endangered yellow-eyed penguin, and see New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun. Furry friends can be found at the Shamarra Alpaca Farm.
Dunedin has an amazing number of endangered species in close proximity to the city. Otago Peninsula is home to fur seals, sea lions, penguins, and albatross. Visit Penguin Place conservation reserve; The Royal Albatross Centre; or Orokonui Ecosanctuary, a nature haven where visitors may see tuatara and 17 species of native birds.