Because of New Zealand’s isolation, we are blessed with legions of uniquely evolved, beautiful birds – it’s a bird-watching paradise. Whether you want to see secretive, rare land birds with weird and wonderful traits, or soaring, intrepid seabirds that choose New Zealand as their home, there are so many places around New Zealand where you can get up close with feathered friends. Some, like Gannet Safaris Overland, take you closer than ever.

Best places to go

If you have a special interest in seabirds, you can’t go past the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head in Dunedin, or the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony with us here at Gannet Safaris Overland, or the little blue penguin colony in Oamaru. The Royal Albatross Centre has a glass viewing observatory where you can see those impressive sea-faring birds nesting or even stretching out their wings to their 3m wingspan. The Cape Kidnappers gannet colony is made the most accessible gannet colony in the world by the fact we can drive you up to the plateau, so you’re within metres of these gorgeous birds. And right down the end of the size spectrum, you have the tiny little blue penguins on Oamaru that waddle out of the surf in the evenings, in rafts of many birds, on the way to their burrows and nest boxes. There, you can watch from a grandstand, to keep the penguins out of harm’s way yet give you an incredible view of these small creatures.

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If you’d like to encounter birds of the land and forest, head to Zealandia or Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Zealandia has 225 ha of predator-free sanctuary land for birds such as the mammal-like kiwi, the flitting hihi, loud tieke, huge takahe and many other animals such as tuatara and eels – what’s more, it’s conveniently close to the Wellington city centre. Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre is an incredible place in the Wairarapa, much larger and more remote than Zealandia, where you can see all these birds as well as their captive-breeding aviaries (breeding for release).

Gannets at Cape Kidnappers

We’re very lucky here at Gannet Safaris Overland to be visiting New Zealand’s largest gannet colony, with an incredible 20,000 birds. We have the privilege of driving through the country’s largest privately-owned sanctuary that is otherwise not accessible to the public (it is also a working farm and the site of an exclusive lodge). Driving up within a few metres of the birds makes our tours accessible to all ages and stages, and we can even run a private sunrise tour by Range Rover for those that are looking for something extra special.

You’re spoilt for choice in New Zealand for bird watching – we hope you manage to visit as many of these as you can, and if it’s gannets you’re after, we endeavour to provide you with the best experience possible here with us at Gannet Safaris Overland, at the magnificent Cape Kidnappers plateau colony.

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Qualmark Silver Award, Tourism Export Council of New Zealand, Hawke's Bay, TIA