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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

New Zealand

Island Endemics and Seabirds

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office. 

ENTERING NEW ZEALAND: United States citizens need a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay; at the time of writing, no visa is required. Non-US citizens need a valid passport, and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest New Zealand Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate to determine whether you need a visa. 

Note: Starting October 2019 all travellers from 60 visa waiver countries (including E.U. countries plus the US and Canada) will need to hold an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) before entering New Zealand. This waiver costs NZD$9-12 and can be applied for online at This is best done after you purchase your flights. This applies to travellers arriving by air or sea, as well as passengers simply transiting through New Zealand. Additionally, a fee called ‘The International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy’ may also be assessed at the same time as the ETA and will cost NZD$35.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at

CLIMATE: The weather in New Zealand can change rapidly, particularly at sites near the coast. Summer (December to February) is generally warm (68-86°F); spring (September to November) is cooler but changeable (50-77°F). At any season, even mid-summer, the weather can be cool, and rain is possible at any time. The pelagic trips are always cool. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: The general pace of the tour will be easy to moderate. Most of our walks will last no more than a few hours; some trails will be wet if there has been rain recently. Our days will often last from early morning until late afternoon or early evening; our lunches will be picnics or meals in cafes. Sometimes we will bird at night, walking across uneven, sandy terrain or up and down forest trails. Whenever possible, we will make our birding excursions optional.

New Zealand may seem small on the map, but most overseas visitors are surprised at how big the country really is—and even more at the length of time it can take to drive from one location to another. This tour is designed to cover the North, South, and Stewart Islands at a reasonable pace, limiting the driving times each day as much as possible. Most of New Zealand’s roads are single-lane, paved, and sometimes winding. In a few areas we will travel on gravel roads. 

The pelagic trips will range from three hours to all day (10-12 hours); the all-day trips include lunch on board. Our boats have adequate cabin space to provide shelter from the weather. 

HEALTH: There are no major health risks in New Zealand. No immunizations are required for visitors unless they have visited other countries en route. It is recommended, though, that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations. 

New Zealand has no snakes, and poisonous spiders are very rare and almost never encountered. Bring a strong insect repellent for protection against mosquitoes and sand flies.

Tap water is safe to drink and can be used to fill water bottles for daytime use.

Smoking: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any lodge, accommodation, or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than the WINGS policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail. 

ALTITUDE: We will spend most of our time at sea level and at altitudes below approximately 3,000 feet. 

ACCOMMODATION: With the exception of our one night on Tiritiri Matangi, we’ll be staying at good-quality motels with private bathrooms. On Tiritiri Matangi we will be staying in the only accommodation on the island using shared bunkrooms with a communal kitchen area and unisex bathroom.

Our accommodation on Stewart Island varies from tour to tour, with this being an incredibly busy location with a limited amount of accommodation. We may have our usual style motel accommodation, but in some cases may be in rooms with shared bathroom facilities.

FOOD: The food in New Zealand is of a very good to excellent standard. Local dairy products and organic produce are known for their freshness and taste, while the humble fish-and-chip shop is the typical fast food outlet. New Zealand is celebrated around the world for its wonderful cheeses and wines. 

Breakfasts are standard continental style; we will often pick up our lunches in a shop in the morning and eat them at a birding location during the day. Dinner is regularly at a cafe or restaurant, with a selection from the normal menu.

TRANSPORT: Transport will be by minibus, driven by the leader. A rotational system will be used so that all participants have opportunities to sit near the front of the bus. There will be frequent long drives, occasionally on winding roads. Pelagic trips will be on small boats with small but adequate cabin space. Some of the boats we use are chartered exclusively for our group, but at some times we will be on trips with other passengers.

Updated: 09 April 2024