5 Best Wildlife Experiences in New Zealand

New Zealand Wildlife Experience

Under-populated and boasting a diversity of landscapes, New Zealand is a mecca for nature lovers. The country’s isolated nature has resulted in a population of unique and interesting (and often endangered) wildlife making New Zealand its home.

Try these unforgettable wildlife experiences on your next visit to New Zealand.

Spot a kiwi

There’s no doubt about it: you have to see at least one kiwi while you’re in New Zealand. This flightless bird is endemic to New Zealand and is seen as a national symbol. The birds are quite hard to spot in the wild, and your best bet is probably at one of the country’s many wildlife reserves.

If you desperately want to see a kiwi in the wild, your best bet is on Stewart Island. The kiwi that live on the island are a diurnal breed that tend to move in family groups, making them much easier to spot than their nocturnal, loner cousins.

Watch the whales

Kaikoura, a small town on the South Island, has earned itself an international reputation as a prime whale watching destination. A deep, undersea canyon off the coast provides a rich feeding ground for a number of marine creatures, including sperm whales.

The whales keep a year-round presence in Kaikoura, giving visitors a great opportunity to see the animals up close. In addition to the sperm whales, several other species, like humpback whales and blue whales, migrate past Kaikoura on the way to warmer waters near Tonga.

Meet a kea

Kea are olive-green alpine parrots that live only in New Zealand. The birds are known for having an outgoing and curious disposition. You’re likely to come across kea on back-country tramps in alpine regions. They are often seen on the trails around Mount Cook.

Kea are attracted to shiny objects and love chewing on soft rubber. Keep this in mind when you park your car in the mountains: several hikers have returned to find their side mirrors and windshield wipers have been vandalized by the birds.

Swim with dolphins

New Zealand is home to the world’s tiniest dolphin: the adorable Hector’s dolphin. The dolphin is also highly endangered and found only off the shores of New Zealand.

You can swim with the Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa. The animals are quite playful and are known to swim and play around groups of swimmers, but remember that they are wild animals and need their space. You should not touch or feed the dolphins.

See the glow worms

Much like North American fireflies, glow worms emit a small green glow from their bodies. New Zealand’s glow worms typically live in damp, underground caves and can be viewed on boat tours through the caves.



Glow worms live in clusters and are quite spectacular to see hanging from cave walls. If you encounter any glow worms in New Zealand, don’t touch them or shine a flashlight on them: they’re very sensitive creatures.

This article was written by Christchurch-based travel blogger, Whitney Cox. Whitney writes about things to do in New Zealand. She is especially interested in the outdoors experiences and wildlife the country has to offer, everything from tiny songbirds to humpback whales.

Pictures of New Zealand

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This post was submitted by Whitney Cox.

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