Bird watching / photography tours
Other birds can include karearea (NZ falcon), pūteketeke (crested grebe), kahu (swamp harrier), pihoihoi (NZ pipit), poaka (pied stilt), warou (welcome swallow), white and white-faced heron, a variety of native and introduced water birds, and uncommon introduced birds such as the chukor (Alectoris chukar).
Our tour takes in the magnificent transition of scenery as we progress from Christchurch across the Canterbury plains, passing through Geraldine and Fairlie, then over Bukes Pass to the Mackenzie Basin.
Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere
Te Waihora is well known for its migrant waders, including such species as curlew, sharptailed and pectoral sandpipers; red-necked stint, ruddy turnstone, Pacific golden plover, red knot and the famous kuaka (bar-tailed godwit). New Zealand waders also feature, such as the ngutupare (wrybill), kaki (black stilt), poaka (pied stilt), and pohowera (banded dotterel).
You might also sight an elusive matuku-hūrepo (Australasian bittern) or the secretive koitareke (marsh crake). Matuku moana (white-faced heron), kōtuku (white heron), kōtuku ngutupapa (royal spoonbill) and pūteketeke (crested grebe) are other special birds here. Several species of terns and gulls add to the attractions, and the lake abounds with water and estuarine birds.
It is a vital stopover site for birds migrating up and down the coast, including the iconic kuaka (bar-tailed godwit) and other Arctic migrants that live out their winter in our summer.
Threatened braided river bird species such as the tarapuka (black-billed gull), tarapirohe (black-fronted tern), ngutupare (wrybill) and kaki (black stilt) are regularly observed on this estuary.
All tours meet at Waikuku Beach settlement. Pick-ups from Christchurch by arrangement.
New Zealand’s smallest bird, the titipounamu (rifleman) are a regular feature of this track!
You are also likely to see kakaruwai (South Island robin), ngirungiru (South Island tomtit), korimako (bellbird), riroriro (grey warbler), piwakawaka (fantail), and (sometimes) tui. Pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo) are often observed in spring and early summer. The occasional slumbering ruru (morepork) might be spotted in the crowns of tree fern.
There’s also a chance to see at least one of the three “K’s”– kakariki (yellow crowned parakeet), kea and kaka. Whio (blue duck) are sometimes seen in the river valley, as are karearea (NZ falcon), which hunt through the open river valleys.
Hinewai Forest Reserve Tours
A portion of all tour fees goes to the Maurice White Native Forest Trust to support the continuation of the Hinewai forest restoration programme. Due to serious flood damage our lower valley tours are temporarily suspended.
TOURSAuldwood Birds offers half and full-day tours of Hinewai Reserve. Times include travel to and from Little River. Free Akaroa pick up and drop- off available. Maximum of ten people per tour. Tours not recommended for children aged under five years.
Dates: Tours operate from 1 September to 31 April (inclusive) each year. Available on demand. Pick a date, organise family and/or friends, and we’ll do the rest.
Times: All tours depart from Little River, or and Akaroa pick up and drop off by arrangement. Departure times vary to ensure we arrive at Hinewai just as the day is starting to warm up, a time when birds are most active. Pick-ups from Christchurch available for a total charge of $50.
Red Beech Terraces Tour: approx. 4 hours returnStart your tour in the ‘stone circle’ surrounded by volcanic cliffs – home to karearea (NZ falcon) – and take in the magnificent views out to Otanerito/Long Bay. Then visit the Putakitaki Pond before exploring the magnificent red beech forest where we can expect to see ngirungiru (tomtit), titipounamu (rifleman) and many other bush birds. End your journey with a gentle wander along the Purple Peak track back to your vehicle. This grassy valley surrounded by forest is a beautiful place to see birds that enjoy the sunny edges of the forest and the open fields. Tour includes a complementary morning tea.Grade: easyCost: $180 per person aged 12 or over$75 per person for children aged five to 12 years.Minimum booking is three adults (or price equivalent).
Stony Bay to Long Bay Tour: 5 to 6 hours one way*(includes a separate vehicle pick up to return clients to starting point)This wonderful walk traverses the width of Hinewai Reserve from its high point along the volcanic cliffs of Stony Bay Peak, down to the ‘stone circle’ and the red beech terraces, and then following the contour line track through diverse country to Long Bay Road. Experience the progression from alpine vegetation to the dense red beech forest. A wide variety of vegetation means a wide variety of birds!Grade: easy to moderateCost: $354 per person aged 12 or over$198 per person for children aged five to 12 yearsMinimum booking is four adults (or price equivalent).Prices for an optional picnic lunch from the Little River Café available on inquiry.
Hawdon River Valley
The Hawdon Valley offers the opportunity to see a wide range of birds. These include the critically endangered mohua (yellowhead), kaka, roa (great spotted kiwi) and kakariki kowhai (yellow-crowned parakeet). There is also the chance of seeing one of New Zealand's rarest aprrots, the Kākāriki karaka / orange-fronted parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi).
Other forest birds can include pipipi (brown creeper), titipounamu (rifleman), kakaruwai (South Island robin), ngirungiru (South Island tomtit), korimako (bellbird), riroriro (grey warbler), piwakawaka (fantail), and tui. Pipīwharauroa (shining cuckoo) and koekoeā (long-tailed cuckoo) can be seen between November and February. Listen at night for roa and ruru (morepork owl). In the open river valley enroute we might well see kea, karearea (NZ falcon) and some braided river birds such as ngutu pare (wrybill) and tarapirohe (black-fronted tern).
This is an adventurous family experience for ‘tramping fit’ nature and bird enthusiasts. The route includes multiple river crossings as both sides of the valley are explored for bird watching opportunities.
Our route involves a beautiful forest valley walk rich in plants and other birds.
Pick up other birding opportunities along the way at Arthurs Pass National Park for a full day’s birding experience.
Or add it to one of our Arthurs Pass tours for a two-day experience overnighting in either Arthurs Pass or on the West Coast.
Piwauwau Challenge - Otira Valley
Participants must be ‘tramping fit’ and prepared to spend a day walking through rough, largely unformed, terrain. But the rewards are worth it, not just in terms of the chance to find this rare bird but in terms of scenery alone . . . the views and the alpine plants are spectacular!
As part of the day, we’ll also look for bush birds, braided river birds and, of course, take time to find the famous alpine parrot, the kea, though chances are they’ll find us first!