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Birds of New Zealand

Kea, the New Zealand mountian parrotThe first type of wildlife you may think of when New Zealand is mentioned is our national symbol, the kiwi. It’s not surprising that we have an endangered flightless bird as our national icon because New Zealand is a country dominated by birds, many of which are flightless. It’s an evolutionary result of having no predatory mammals. In fact, the only mammals we have are a couple of species of bat! So, if you’re out hiking in our national parks you won’t have to worry about seeing any big cats, bears, primates (apart from, maybe, a few locals), or snakes - because there aren’t any.

Having evolved in an environment that had no mammalian predators for 80 million years, our birds were vulnerable to the arrival of humans (and the rats and other animals they brought with them). Once humans arrived, over 40% of New Zealand’s birdlife became extinct. Birds like the giant flightless Moa, Haast’s Eagle ( the world’s largest eagle ever known), the New Zealand Pelican, the Laughing Owl and a host of other birds, vanished from our land. Many of the species that did survive are endangered or vulnerable to human impact, and are now part of extensive conservation efforts to increase numbers. The Department of Conservation is amongst the world’s leaders in population recovery for endangered birds, with the Chatham Islands Black Robin, which in 1980 was down to only five remaining birds of which there was only a single breeding pair, being an internationally recognised conservation success story (there are now about 200 of these little birds).

New Zealand’s birds are a curious bunch, including the kiwi, the kakapo (a critically endangered flightless parrot), the kea (a highly intelligent mountain parrot), royal albatrosses (we have the only mainland colony of royal albatrosses in the world), penguins (including some of the world’s rarest) and many others that you’ll see while hiking in New Zealand or exploring our coastlines.

Trip Reviews

  4.64 out of 5 (from 548 reviews)

I wasn't ready for the trip to end!

I don't even know where to begin...so let's start at the beginning. I spent the last year dreaming about going to New Zealand, trying to talk just one friend into going with me, and finally, with some encouragement from family, booking this trip as a first time solo traveler. And let me be clear- that was the best decision I could have made! I enjoyed every single minute of my trip and wouldn't change the experience of traveling solo for anything. From the moment I met Gary and Mel, I knew that I had made the right decision. They were welcoming, to all, from the moment they met us. Right away I knew I had nothing to worry about, and worry I did prior to the start of the trip. I could not have asked for a better group of travel mates; it was as if you had hand-picked who should be on the trip together. They were amazing! The experiences on the trip would not have been nearly as amazing if it wasn't for these awesome people with whom I had the good fortune to travel.
Gary and Mel were kind, patient, and so easy to be around. They answered every question a novice like myself asked, without ever making me feel like an idiot. Gary was witty, kept us going, and a super safe driver! ( I am not a big fan of mountain roads with cliffs on the edge that lead to instant death and not once did I fear for my life.) Mel's cooking...holy smokes was it good; so much so that the pounds I was so sure I would lose on the trip didn't happen. She has even inspired me to try to cook a couple of her dishes this winter. She made it look so easy, even with the varied diets of the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had chatting with both Gary and Mel wherever we were: on the bus, hiking, eating or playing cards. They brought us all together.
Now, for the adventures! Every day was different from the day prior. I saw and experienced so many new things that I can't stop talking about it. I loved the really challenging hikes (Sealy Tarns and Alex Knob) and the slower paced treks through the rain forest and valleys. The night sky at Mt. Aspiring Hut is indescribable! While we were unable to go on the second overnight hike due to weather, Gary and Mel didn't miss a beat. We were so busy and had so much fun, even in the rain, that you would never have known that we were doing almost 3 days of alternate activities. Major kudos to them for this! I could keep going on how much I enjoyed every aspect of my trip. This was the first vacation I have been on where I didn't want it to end and it truly was the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to book my next trip with Active Adventures!
Melissa Munno Review Image
– California, United States
Winter Rimu, August 2016
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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