NZ Wildlife Experiences for International Students

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Here are some of New Zealand’s best wildlife experiences for International Students to enjoy. Take a trip and see some of the incredible animals that call New Zealand home.


NZ Fur Seal/Kekeno - Wellington

On Wellington’s South Coast is Red Rocks Reserve, where just around the corner at Sinclair Head/Rimurapa, a fur seal colony resides from May to October. The red rocks were formed 200 million years ago, and they are the remnants of undersea volcanic eruptions. They are stained red due to the presence of iron oxide.  The seals are less aggressive than most colonies as it is populated by bachelor males who were unsuccessful in their attempts to win the rank of breeding male in the South Island colonies. It is still recommended to not get to close to the seals as they are affected by stress. The entire journey takes around 2-4 hours return if you walk (depending on how far you venture into Te Kopahou Reserve), or you can choose to do a seal safari tour in a four-wheel drive vehicle instead.


Gannet Colony - Muriwai
If you visit the black sands of Muriwai beach, head around the corner to witness the gannet colony. Some of these birds famously fly from NZ to Australia (2,000km) where they will stay for up to three years before returning home to mate and nest in August, never to leave NZ again. Their young will then repeat the process. More than a 1,000 gannets’ nest in Muriwai and it is a short walk from the carpark to the gannet viewing platform.


Dolphins – Marlborough Sounds
Go on a dolphin swimming tour or spot dolphins from a boat or kayak in Malborough Sounds. We recommend going on an e-ko tour, where you will learn more about these playful creatures in an ethical and respectful way. The Marlborough Sounds spans 1,500km of NZ’s coastline and are a collection of ancient sunken river valley’s and three main bodies of water – Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds.


Blue Penguin Colony – Oamaru
Go on an evening viewing tour and visit the Oamaru blue penguin colony. Watch the nightly arrival of penguins after a days fishing and take part in a unique conservation project. You can also choose to adopt-a-penguin and sponsor the habitat or research.


Whale watching – Kaikōura
In this magical place, whales pass through while they journey towards Antarctica. You can choose to witness the whale’s migration via boat or plane and marvel at the sheer size of these incredible creatures. And, in the backdrop, the incredible Kaikōura Ranges.


Kiwi – Rotorua

No New Zealand wildlife experience is complete without attempting to spot NZ’s elusive, nocturnal and unique national bird – the Kiwi. You will need perseverance and a keen eye to spot one in the wild, making seeing one an unforgettable experience. One of the best places to learn more about the symbol for all New Zealanders is Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, which has a nocturnal house, human-sized Kiwi burrow, interactive Kiwi facts and a giant Kiwi egg.


Tuatara – Wellington
Having been on the earth for over 200 million years, these are truly remarkable creatures, that are now endangered due to introduced predators. The Tuatara (Māori for ‘spines on the back’) can be found in Wellington at Zealandia/Te Māra a Tāne, or in the science block at Victoria University of Wellington. The Tuatara is a reptile that is endemic to NZ, they have a ‘third eye’ on top of their skull and are referred to as ‘living fossils’ by scientists. It is estimated that they can live for over 100 years.


Blue Duck/Whio – Ōwhango

Make a visit to Blue Duck Station to see the ducks on the outskirts of Whanganui national park and on the Whanganui river. Whio are one of NZ’s rarest bird and are considered taonga (treasured/sacred) by Māori. Their Māori name depicts the call of the male bird.


Morepork/Ruru – Waikato

Morepork are commonly found in forests throughout mainland New Zealand and on offshore islands. In Māori tradition the ruru is seen as a watchful guardian and hearing the call they are named for was said to be a good sign. The best place to see them is at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari on a night tour.


Wētāpunga or Wētā – Wairarapa

While they can be found across NZ, the best place to visit in the country to see them without getting a fright is the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre on the edge of Wairarapa and Tarurua. They have a specially built attraction called Te Wāhi Wētā where you will see the insects in specially built terrariums, marvel at the giant wētā statue and learn to build hotels for them!


Northern Royal Albatross - Dunedin/Ōtepoti

The Otago peninsula is the best place to go if you are on the lookout for the Royal Albatross (the birds with the largest wingspan) as it has the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross in the world. This majestic bird uses its three-metre wingspan to fly an estimated 190,000 kilometres a year. We recommend Monarch Wildlife Cruises & Tours double albatross combo for the full experience!


Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.