New Zealand South and Stewart Islands

Subject: New Zealand South and Stewart Islands
From: Gil Langfield <>
Date: Sat, 03 Mar 2001 18:34:29 +1100
My wife and I had a 4-week holiday in the South and Stewart Islands of New Zealand in February. I used Heather and Robertson's "Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand", First Edition 1996. Please note that I saw on the shelves in New Zealand a second edition with about 6 additional species and a new short section on where to watch birds. Also published is a "Hand Guide" version of the same book which omits the detailed species accounts but includes the new section on localities. I looked in vain in a few second-hand bookshops for Chambers "Birds of NZ - a Locality Guide". There is a good natural history second-hand bookshop in New Regent Street, Christchurch (on the historic tram route).

On Lake Tekapo I saw my first hybrid Black/Black-winged Stilt and saw the Black itself at Lake Poaka, near Twizel as well as inside the Black Stilt Centre there. Little Penguin, Stewart Island and Spotted Shags were seen for the first time at Oamaru Harbour. The Otago Peninsula was good for nesting Northern Royal Albatross and Yellow-eyed Penguin. At Sinclair Wetlands, just south of Dunedin, I saw one only Fernbird which obliged me by perching on a bush.

Stewart Island is near to the South Pole and felt like it. We were lucky that the evening Brown Kiwi Watch was possible the night we had booked and saw 2 males on the beach and a female in the bush. The weather was not kind on Ulva Island with guide, Ron Tindall and although we saw Brown Creeper, Weka, Kaka, both Parakeets, Tomtit, NZ Robin, Tui and Bellbird, we did not see the recently introduced Saddlebacks.

NZ Falcons seemed to be relatively common in Fiordland. We saw one on the lake at Te Anau and several along the Milford Track. We were also lucky to see a pair of Blue Duck on the river alongside the track. Heather and Robertson's second edition suggests that the best place for Rock Wren is the Gertrude Saddle Track near Homer's Pass. I spent 3 sunny hours at the former and 0.5 hours at the latter location but saw none. Birds were also scarce at the nearby Lake Gunn Nature Trail. I tried here and near Arthurs Pass for Yellowhead without success. Great Spotted Kiwi occur in the valleys near Arthurs Pass and I spent a few evening hours there without hearing or seeing any.

I went out on two afternoon Oceanwings pelagics at Kaikoura and saw Westland, White-chinned, Northern Giant and Cape Petrels, (White-capped and Salvin's) Shy Albatross, (Pacific and Campbell I.) Black-browed Albatross, Southern Royal, Buller's and Wandering Albatross, Buller's, Sooty and Hutton's Shearwater. Sightings are better there in winter.

Altogether I saw 85 species among which were 13 new ones. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.


Gil Langfield
Melbourne, Australia

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