New Zealand Wildlife - Seen on Tour
Fresh water dolphins, punk rock penguins, naughty parrots and the world's deepest diving seal are some of the more curious critters encountered when walking New Zealand’s wild side.
It’s not just the expansive landscapes, beautiful mountains, lush rainforests and exquisite beaches that make New Zealand unique. It’s not even the friendly, laid back locals, ever willing to lend a helping hand or offer some friendly advice. No, we think it’s the wildlife that makes this place special and you get a chance to see more than a fair share on our 'World Heritage Walking Tour'.
Here are a couple that stand out...
Fresh Water Bottlenose Dolphins
The bottlenose dolphins of Fiordland live at the southern limit of the species worldwide range and even more curious is the fact that schools of these dolphins are regularly seen in the lower Hollyford River or even up as far as Lake McKerrow further up the Hollyford Valley – this is only one of two places in the world where they are found in fresh water. Bottlenose dolphins are large beautiful creatures, that seem to be perpetually smiling, with big widely spaced eyes, relatively long flippers, a rounded forehead, definitely a friendly face - and the reason the are believed to head inland up the Hollyford waterways is that they are in pursuit of the fat and delicious river trout.
Where will we see them: There is a good chance to see these dolphins on Day 9 and 10 when we are on the water in the Hollyford Valley. You also have an opportunity to view bottlenose on a cruise on Milford Sound, if you choose to take that option.
Fiordland Crested Penguin
The Fiordland crested penguin (tawaki) is one of the rarest New Zealand mainland penguins and is one of six species of crested penguin called the Macaroni Penguin. Adults stand about 60 centimetres (1.96 Feet) high and weigh up to four kilograms (8.8 Pounds), they have a black head, back and throat with a white underside and front. It sports a stubby orange bill with pink feet. The coolest and most striking features is its pair of yellow (sulphur colored) crests above the eyes that grow from the bill to just behind the head making them look like the punk rocker of the penguin community. The character named Lovelace in the film Happy Feet is a Macaroni Penguin and voiced over by none other than the fabulous Robin Williams.
Where will we see them: They nest individually on the wild shores of the remote Martins Bay, and we should see them on day 9 of our tour, the day before we walk out on the Hollyford Track.
Naughty Kea - the world’s only alpine parrot
So called by its cry of ‘ke-aa’ ringing through New Zealand’s South Island, the Kea is the world’s only alpine parrot and a naughty one at that. Proven to be smarter than a monkey this ‘Clown of the Alps’ is famous for its destructive behavior and inquisitive nature. It is not uncommon for an unsuspecting tourist to have their day packs looted of anything shiny (coins, watches) or for their cars rubber window seals ripped out without a twinge of remorse causing all manner of difficulties with car hire companies.
Where will we see them: You will see this beaked bandits magnificent plume, up close and personal on the first day of our tour in Arthurs Pass, day nine in Fiordland and also at Mt Cook national park on day twelve.
New Zealand Fur Seal – the deepest diver
This good looking fin-footed carnivorous mammal is distinguished by visible ears with back flippers which rotate forward, a pointy-nose and long pale whiskers with a body covered with dark grey brown fur. Some have white tips on their longer upper hairs, which give the animal a silvery appearance. These seals dive deeper and longer than any other fur seal in the world and Females on the West Coast are known dive deeper than 238 meters (780 feet), and for as long as 11 minutes.
Where will we see them: We visit the resident fur seal colony on the West Coast's remote Martins Bays at Long Reef on Day 9 of our trip.
See them for yourself on a New Zealand Trails trip
New Zealand Trails proudly operates our World Heritage Walking Tour' in the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area - a 13 day tour starting and finishing in Christchurch. You’ll enjoy guided walks on the best tracks in New Zealand - the Routeburn, Hollyford and Milford Track plus Arthurs Pass and Mt Cook National Parks are all included in your tour. On top of the best walking in NZ you’ll never forget upclose wildlife experiences and iconic activities like the TranzAlpine train, glacier hiking and Fiordland helicopter ride and backcountry jetboat. All this with the comforts of home, there is no camping or staying in huts on this tour, accommodation is to a laid-back luxury standard and we enjoy the best New Zealand cuisine in the evenings.
Written by Brent Narbey - New Zealand Trails