Canterbury, New Zealand
Birdwatching

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Our most recommended Canterbury, New Zealand Birdwatching

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

1. Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

Enjoy a memorable sea-kayaking experience from Akaroa with two departure options. No experience is necessary because the trips are run in settled safe conditions by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  Depart from Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Learn about the region from your local guide and, during the afternoon trip, stop for photo opportunities along the way. Then, it is time to gear up and climb into the double kayaks. Your safety is the top priority and the experience can be mind-blowing with the right sea conditions. Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch can be reached in settled sea conditions. Marvel at the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various seabirds, and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin.

Christchurch: Orana Wildlife Park Admission

2. Christchurch: Orana Wildlife Park Admission

Experience the ultimate animal adventure at Orana Wildlife Park. Set in 80 hectares, within 15 minutes drive of Christchurch airport, Orana is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo. Discover over 400 animals, representing more than 70 species. Arrive at the park from 10 AM in the morning. Regular animal feed presentations occur daily, commencing at 10:45 AM, and are accompanied by a presentation from a wildlife guide. It is recommended to arrive at the park early and follow the presentation schedule which will lead you around the entire zoo. As you explore the grounds, enjoy a range of amazing wildlife experiences including hand-feeding the giraffes and meeting rhino up close. Stroll through the aviaries to observe kiwi, and other stunning native birds including kakariki, whio, tui, and mischievous kea. See a range of native reptiles and meet friendly domestic animals in the Farmyard area. Also, enjoy the antics of gorillas, tigers, cheetah, Tasmanian devils, monkeys, meerkats, and more. Either ride through the park on the complimentary Safari Shuttle, join a guided walkabout tour, and/or meander around the park at your own leisure. The park contains a children’s adventure playground, 2 large picnic areas, a café, and a wildlife-themed gift shop for you to explore at your own pace.

Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

3. Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

Enjoy this once in a lifetime bird watching experience just 15 minutes of the coast of Kaikoura. Within just a small area, meet one of the greatest varieties of seabirds and pelagic bird life you'll find anywhere in the world. Up to 12 species of albatross alone can be viewed at various times of the year. Equip yourself with your bird identification list, your expert local guide and driver will take you on a journey from the Port out into the open ocean. Enjoy the opportunity to watch the birds come in close to the boat for a unique feeding experience. Throughout the tour, your guide will take you to various different spots to ensure you see as many species as possible. As you make your way back to Kaikoura, come in close to the shore and marvel at the picturesque New Zealand coastline. If you’re lucky, you will have an opportunity to see beautiful fur seals basking in the sunshine.

Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

4. Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

Begin your adventure in the town of Kaikoura where you will meet your professional guides. Receive a short safety briefing and paddling lesson before being allocated all the necessary equipment for the tour. Head out on the waters of the beautiful ocean surrounding the city. Kayak along the Kaikoura coastline, where you will take in the magnificent views of sheer cliff faces, craggy rocks, and mountain ranges while searching for chance encounters with Dusky Dolphins and Blue Penguins. Experience the excitement of watching cute fur seals ducking, weaving, and diving around your kayak. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to paddle gently along with these beautiful animals as they swim around the Kaikoura Peninsula hunting for their favourite feed of octopus. This tour is suitable for all ages and abilities while operating year-round, and doesn't require any previous kayaking experience. Encounter a diverse range of wildlife on the New Zealand coastline and see some of the country's most beautiful animals.

Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

5. Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

Experience the South Island's remarkable natural landscapes by taking a journey on a train from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass, which is considered one of the world's greatest train journeys for the scenery it passes. Enjoy breathtaking views of Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, ice-fed Waimakariri River, lush beech forests, and stunning landscapes. Explore walking tracks in Arthur's Pass National Park with spectacular mountain views & pristine waterfalls. Capture mirror images at Lake Pearson & wander through the majestic limestone boulders at Castle Hill. A perfect day trip for nature lovers, hikers, and adventure seekers.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

6. Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

Soak up panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glaciers reflecting on the mirror-like waters of Lake Mapourika on this 2-hour scenic cruise. The lake was created by the Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated 14,000 years ago and now sits calm and reflective between the Southern Alps and the sea. Meet your experienced skipper and small group at the office in Franz Josef and take a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Board the boat, then sit back and relax onboard the Hanna-k in the comfortable enclosed cabin or on the covered back deck. Your skipper will take you through to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary on the far shorelines of the lake and will help you spot New Zealand's native birds. Enjoy informative commentary and fascinating stories as you cruise past untouched Jurassic rainforest and 900-year-old Kahikatea trees. Sip on a cup of complimentary tea or coffee as you unwind in beautiful Glacier Country, a picture perfect way to escape the crowds and enjoy the West Coast’s scenery.

Akaroa: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

7. Akaroa: Pohatu Penguins Scenic Nature 2-Hour or 4-Hour Tour

Join a 4WD eco-tourism safari to the spectacular award-winning Wild Side Conservation area. Depart Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Along the way, learn the region's history from your local guide. Stop for photo opportunities with views of Akaroa harbor and the Pacific Ocean. Arrive at a local family's farm where you can meet friendly pet sheep and hand-feed them for a real kiwi experience. In season, monitor nesting sites with your guide and learn about the conservation work done for the largest colony of little penguins on mainland New Zealand. At certain times of the year, you may even see some of the rehabilitation efforts such as supplemental feeding. The extended 4-hour tour includes visits to the spectacular cliff-tops of Akaroa Heads Lighthouse Reserve. You will have more time to enjoy the area with homemade muffins and cakes, and more time to see the native wildlife and to explore Flea Bay. This activity directly funds the conservation work that takes place at Pohatu Bay to protect the penguins.

Christchurch: Sea Kayaking Excursion

8. Christchurch: Sea Kayaking Excursion

Your guide will collect you from your accommodation or at the designated pickup point. Make your way to Lyttleton Harbor as you drive over the Port Hills via Dyers Pass. Enjoy stunning views of the mountains and coast. Your sea kayak journey begins and ends at Charteris Bay just three minutes from Christchurch’s city center. Your guide will teach you some basic paddle strokes and how to steer your boat before heading off. Paddling towards the head of the harbor, explore the many small bays and rocky cliffs along the way. Find secret sandy beaches while hearing stories about the area from your local guide. Leaving the coast, head out to Quail Island, the largest of the three islands in the harbor and learn about its rich local history. Paddle past a ship’s graveyard, with it's the three partially sunken steamships. Lunch is provided on Quail Island or one of the many small beaches in the local area. On Quail Island, you'll have some free time to explore the island or relax by the beach. If time allows, you will be able to circumnavigate the island and visit the sea cliffs and caves at the Northen far end of the island before heading back to Charteris Bay.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

9. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

Begin your adventure at the meeting point in Franz Josef to join your small group and transfer out to Lake Mapourika with your guide. Cruise across the lake in the comfort of the boat and enjoy a stunning vista of Southern Alps and glaciers. On a clear day enjoy views as far as Mount Cook.   Sit back as you arrive into the calm estuary of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Your local knowledgeable skipper will provide you with exclusive access and will guide you through a private rainforest trail.   Follow your skipper through the Jurassic rainforest track and get local insight on the region. Spot native birds as you find your way to the scenic lookout, the perfect spot for a cup or tea or coffee made on the spot.

Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

10. Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

Join your guide as you kayak during sunset to experience the stunning glow of the seaward-facing Kaikoura Mountains. Have the chance to watch seals dive and maneuver around and under your kayak as the sunsets. Paddle with them as they swim around the peninsula hunting for octopus. Along the way keep an eye out for blue penguins or albatross and have a possible encounter with dusky dolphins. Your kayak is enclosed, safe, stable, and easily steered using a rudder. It's fast on the water, but still keeps you warm and dry. Your qualified and experienced local guide will teach you how to handle the kayak and paddle you through areas used years ago by local Maori and early whalers. Enjoy watching the light change as the day draws to an end.

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 9 reviews

Outstanding! On a perfect day we enjoyed the cruise and beauty of Lake Mapourika while learning of its history and natural surroundings. Magnificent views of the mountains and glaciers were mirrored in the serene waters. Jake was interesting and informative. Just do it! A photo album of wonderful memories.

Had a great experience and a very nice time with our guide Sophie. Thank you for that! Nice chatting, lots of interesting facts about wildlife and the area, meeting some seals, penguins and even got a glimpse at a passing pod of dolphins.

Really enjoyed with family. Cooked bbq on site very conveniently and kids was overwhelmed with play ground and mini bus ride. Very interesting and educational watching all the animals.

A great trip, our guide was really knowledgeable. We saw lots of seals and some penguins. The drive over was also spectacular.

Wonderful experience, not to be missed. Knowledgeable guide who answered all our questions