New Zealand - North Island - April 2018

Published by Chris Seaton (foxesontherox AT

Participants: Chris Seaton


Trip to: North Island of New Zealand: sites in Auckland (Waiketere City and Rodney District), Northlands (Far North and Whangerei Districts), Waikato (Franklin, Matamata-Piako, Waitomo, Taupo and Hauraki Districts) and Bay of Plenty (Rotorua District)

Dates: Monday 2nd - 14th April 2018

Trip list by: Chris Seaton

Other birders: Jobe Chadwick at all sites and Detlef Davies on the pelagic trip and some other Far North sites


Considering the 11,500 odd mile journey, this was a short trip within which birding only took up a small part of the time. Along with my non-birding wife, son and daughter, as well as daughter’s boyfriend who has recently taken an interest in birding, we travelled to take part in our goddaughter’s wedding celebrations. This took up the first four days of the trip, although we were in an area that helped me to get started on basic NZ birds. The final four days were given over to ‘family tourism’ and again I managed to pick up a few birds in this time. So that left the middle four days for me to plan to maximise the birds.

Birding Objectives

I had 3 priorities over this time which were i) to do a pelagic trip to catch up with some southern sea-birds, ii) to attempt to see wild kiwi and iii) to see as many endemics as possible at one of the protected off-shore islands. This was my first visit to the Pacific Islands/Australasia/Oceania (call the region what you will) so I held out a decent hope of a good few lifers, even though I had been warned that NZ generally offered ‘thin pickings’ in terms of species diversity.

Travel Plans and Accommodation

We booked flights with Travel Counsellors in October 2017 flying with Philippine Airlines on a route via Manila. We missed the spectacularly low fares some were offered but getting change from £800 for an adult flight seemed good value to me. The service was adequate although the 7-hour layover in Manila on return was gruelling and on MNL-AUK leg there was no in-flight entertainment or even a reading light!

Regarding transport I used who once again came up trumps. The car was a CUV (Hyundai Tucson 2WD) rented through Aerodrive. Both the car and the service from this company were excellent – what a contrast to experiences with Alamo in the US and Europcar in Portugal that still scar my memory! With my mobile phone operator allowing my internet data to be used in NZ, and Android Auto fitted in the car, navigation (and tunes) were, as they say, ‘sweet as’.

The first 4 nights accommodation was arranged with the wedding party and we stayed in a large house with at one time over 22 people around in the Auckland suburb of Swanson. From there we travelled on Day 5 to Gulf Harbour from where we took the ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island for the day and then drove on to Birder’s Rest, the lodgings of Detlef and Carole Davies, in the Far North. After 3 nights there, we drove down to Hamilton where we spent two nights in an Airbnb before travelling to our final destination of Turangi at the south of Lake Taupo. This was another Airbnb. Day 12 involved a 50-hour journey leaving Turangi at 10.00 NZST and arriving in Bognor Regis two days later at 01.00 BST via Auckland, Manila, LHR, etc.

Brief Overview of Area

Most of the North Island that we saw is heavily developed either to urbanisation or agriculture. Apart from the rejuvenated island of Tiri, the only indigenous and relatively wild terrain we got to explore was around the Purerua Peninsular in the Far North and the Kaimanawa Forest Park. However, the people are famously friendly and the country is surely as much of a home-from-home as any British person will find anywhere outside the UK. Prices generally seemed slightly cheaper than in the UK; roads were safe and easy to travel, albeit twisty around hills; all the accommodation and food and drink worked out fine.

Field, Travel and Site Guides

I used the 2001 Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (second hand copies available from Amazon) and also the excellent Android app, Birds of New Zealand by Paul Scofield and Brent Stephenson. Between them, these were fine. Detlef also had a copy of a great seabird guide that I think was published by Helm.

For the first time ever I didn’t take a site guide although the guys from Wrybill Tours (Brent, Sav, et al) were generous with their advice and knowledge in advance of my trip as was Detlef. I should also mention Peter Aley whose report on Surfbirds was my starting point for planning the bird and who was also helpful with advice. The app and web-page once again proved vital – what an invaluable resource this is for finding and instantly recording and reporting birds. I got an email from one of the moderators about one of my submissions whilst out there proving this is a live and inter-active service.


I got some good use from my Huawei Mate Pro both for navigation (Google Maps), music (Spotify), bird sites (eBird) and thanks to the on-board Leica camera as a means to easily take and upload some pictures. [select 10 cropped photos to go into report]

No visa, jabs or special gear is needed, but weather was an issue re our packing (see below).


A 12-day period of two halves – in the first 7 days we went swimming at Kitekite Falls and in the surf at Bethell’s Beach and then in the pool at Birder’s Rest. Some of our shipmates got sunburnt on the pelagic. On Day 8 the weather ‘turned to custard’ with a storm coming up from the Antarctic and hitting South Island that day. We got the impact on Day 9 and after this the weather turned cold with snow, wind and rain all witnessed. Nearly a week later it is still very rainy and rather cold in Auckland. We were told in Taupo on Day 12 that this is ‘unprecedented’ as April is usually the best time to come to NZ as there is no wind!


I found that birds tend to be names variously in New Zealand. I am primarily using the names used by the NZRBN, but if different in Clements these are shown in brackets. Where the Maori names are also commonly used I have shown these too.

Daily Notes

Saturday, 31st March-Sunday 1st April 2018

A late evening flight from LHR meant leaving home to park at Purple Parking around 6pm. The process of departure was smooth enough and our flights were 14 hours to Manila, a couple of hours layover there and over 9 hours on to Auckland. Thus, all Easter Sunday and half of Easter Monday was spent in transit.

Monday, 2nd April 2018

Landed at Auckland International about 14.00 and smooth transit through to car-hire to our digs in Swanson. Swanson is a far western suburb of sprawling Auckland, on the edge of an attractive hilly area known as Waitekere Ranges. Wandering around the place in late afternoon, on the edge of Swanson Refuge and Swanson Golf Course, produced the first common NZ birds including the apparently globally ubiquitous House Sparrow and African Collared Dove. The first lifer was rather uninspiring bird with a splendid name, Welcome Swallow and the second took its time to show, but was the most attractive Australian Magpie. The other two lifers seen were the much-loved Grey Fantail and Silver-eye, an attractive and active little bird that become one of those birds that loses favour among birders as one spend ages trying to get a view and then finally, ‘oh, another Silver-eye’! As warned, the European and introduced birds soon began to appear including Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starling and Common Myna.

The rest of the day was taken up socially but even a very cursory start to the birding had unsurprisingly turned up the first few lifers.

Tuesday, 3rd April 2018

With jet-lag, I had been awake a number of hours before I actually got up shortly after 6am. Using e-Bird, I decided to explore a nearby hotspot in the nearby Cascades Kauri Park Reserve, by accessing it through Falls Road. I was aware from internet preparation that some of the access was restricted thanks both to Kauri dieback protection and some storms. However, as it was early I parked carefully at the edge of Waitekere Ranges Golf Club carpark and we walked down the Falls Road.

The fun soon began as the song of the remarkable Tui filled the air. One never tires of the sight or sound of this bird. The exotic tone continued as two Eastern Rosella flew past and eventually offered a view from a tree on the golf course. A pair of Paradise Shelduck flew over and there were several Australasian Swamphen (Pukeko) wandering around the fairways. A few Masked Lapwing were also patrolling the course and a single Spotted Dove was seen on the telegraph wires. (This bird is an Asian introduction and a bird I have seen in China). Over the course of the visit we picked up a number of the impressive forest dove New Zealand Pigeon and one was well photographed by Jobe. If we had known what a remarkable record it was, I would have asked Jobe to take more record shots of the two flocks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo that we eventually counted to 49 – a record that was understandably questioned by the local eBird coordinator, but count them we did. We added Australian Magpie, New Zealand Fantail, Silver-eye, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Common Myna as we moved towards the closed car park. There was Chaffinch around the preserve lodge as well as House Sparrow. We also saw a couple Goldfinch before we reached the scenic area by the car park. Chased a mystery song in the thick woodland there which I later learned as Tomtit.

All in all a good start to birding proper and we left the site after 08.35, returning in time for a breakfast with the crowd. We hung out at the Swanson accommodation for the next few hours getting generally acclimatised, also picking up California Quail in the property’s garden. Nothing new was added (apart from Rock Dove) to the trip list but I did get more familiar with the calls of Silvereye and Tui and fantails and starlings remained present.

A group of us decided to head out to see the famous beaches of the Waitekere coast and we had a mooch around the beach and walked to Kikekite Falls. Alongside Paradise Shelduck, there was Mallard on the river and the first cormorant of the trip flew over, which was Pied Shag (pictured). The second lifer for this visit was Red-billed Gull whilst we also saw Kelp Gull, Spotted Dove, NZ Pigeon, Welcome Swallow, Starling and Mynas. The falls are well worth a visit and the beach is photogenic and lovely.

Wednesday 4th April 2018

This was the day of the wedding but Jobe and I thought we could sneak out for a quick bit of birding, looking for waterbirds this time. Unfortunately, got snagged up in the traffic and didn’t have long, but eventually found a good spot at Harbour View Beach Reserve to connect with some new birds. Black Swans are quite unmistakeable, and we had two in the harbour along with Mallard. Less straightforward was the Little Shag that I originally identified as a species of grebe as it fished just off the harbour wall. Picked up our first 2 of many White-faced Heron, a few Pukeko and a common wader, Pied Oystercatcher. We also picked up a smaller group of the less common Variable Oystercatcher, all identified because they were in their all-black phase. We also picked up other water birds we expected to see including Masked Lapwing, Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, Caspian Tern and Sacred Kingfisher (pictured). We took a short walk along the path behind the beach and picked up Grey Warbler, Fantail, Welcome Swallow, Silvereye, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starling, Myna, Chaffinch and House Sparrow.

Because of the traffic, we only had an hour on the site, but the 7 lifers were great and the site gave us a chance to catch up on the common local water birds. We had a smooth ride back and prepared for the wedding.

The wedding was held at Jonkers Farm and I didn’t bring bins but got to pick up some things anyway. Most notably I had Wild Turkey (a small group from the introduced population) and the unmistakeable flight of a passing Australasian Harrier. Only other birds noted were Masked Lapwing and Tui. A unforgettable wedding was enjoyed by all.

Thursday 5th April 2018

After a heavy night drove very slowly and carefully alone to Huia Bridge, which eBirds seems to show as a relatively nearby place with a decent list. As it turned out, there was not much to add that I hadn’t picked up already, but it was an attractive place to visit. Birds seen listed below: only Greenfinch new to triplist. The only lifer of the morning trip was seen as I took a speculative turn off the road up from Huia Bridge to a place I later discovered was Lower Nihotupu Dam. I was there from 11.45-12.00 and in addition to waterbirds previously seen (and listed below) I added Little Black Shag: 6 of them perching on a pier by the dam itself. Also a group of Pied Stilt roosting on the slope of the dam.

So back to Swanson for lunch and some chill time with everyone. Weather was great so we decided to visit Bethell’s Beach, not a long drive away. We were there for 90 minutes and had a lovely walk and quick swim and the warm but very rough sea in quite windy conditions. 19 species were seen as listed below including Brown Quail on the road as we left, a good view of Australasian Gannet sheering on the sea and a Skylark singing above the sand dunes.

Friday 6th April 2018

Up early (by family standards), packed and said goodbye to our friends and to the Airbnb in Swanson. The end of a very happy wedding time was the start of the ‘birdy time’ as we headed for Gulf Harbour and our 9.45 ferry to the famed island of Tiritiri Matangi.

We were early enough for a breakfast at the harbour and then onto the cat that took us into Hauraki Gulf and then to the island. We saw 15 species around the harbour and on the journey most notably Buller’s Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater and White-fronted Tern. The journey was fun and fast and we arrived on the island by 10.15. A great speech to open the adventure on the island was delivered by a Maori warden then we were sent off with our tour guide as it were.

The whole 5-hour visit was quite magical and although we only saw 27 species, many of those we did see where brilliant birds to behold. The lifers came quickly along the lower path including Red-crowned Parakeet, the beautiful songster Bellbird, good numbers of Saddleback and Stitchbird and a few very confiding New Zealand Robin. As we worked our way up a winding track in the forest we picked up a couple of real gems and immodestly I will say that I found them both: Kokako and Rifleman. The first was probably bird of the day and was very hard to see.

The guided tour finished after about 2.5 hours, leaving us to have our packed lunch and wander around. We based ourselves initially around the lighthouse and the ranger’s garden where eventually we caught up with Takahe. Taking a short wander, we also bumped into a group of Brown Quail. Near the end of the visit, we had to pick up the pace as we were close to the ferry departure time, but our happily our guide was with us again and we saw Morepork roosting quite close to the path and a pair of Brown Teal sleeping next to a pond.

We took the ferry back around 15.30 and I was pleased that those advising me on the trip had described TMI as ‘unmissable’ and we had spent this special day on the island. So, we found the car, refuelled and headed off for the Far North. Journey was fine, but obviously after a reasonably early start and a full-on day’s birding we were quite tired by the time we arrived at ‘Birder’s Rest’ in Kerikeri, the home of Detlef and Carol Davies. We really only had time for a quick bite to eat, as we had arranged to meet our chums, the Sherwoods (parents of the bride) and to travel to the kiwi site.

When as a birder you think of a trip to New Zealand, you immediately think, ‘pelagic and kiwi’. Second objective was tackled first, particularly as staying 3 nights, it gave us a couple of back-up nights if we dipped first time. Unfortunately, Carol was unfit to join us (she feels confident as the key kiwi-finder!) so Detlef joined us with 4 in the back. We travelled to the Pureora Pensinsular, a journey of about 40 minutes from Kerikeri on mostly unmade roads, arriving just before 9.30pm. To cut a long story short, it was quite a slog for 2 and a half hours searching for the kiwi and although we heard a few did not get great views. Actually, the first tick for the Far North was Morepork, which we heard a couple of times, near our carpark. The best view we had of North Island Brown Kiwi was a bird on the path around 20 metres ahead of us. Enough to tick but not very satisfactory. Still all in all an amazing day.

Saturday 7th April 2018

After the late night and a long day, enjoyed the lie in this morning and we generally enjoyed a quiet day around Kerikeri. Jobe and I wombled down to nearby Skudders Beach Road in the hope of finding Fernbird and others possible lifers late morning. We cracked on well with the Far North list, adding 17 species as you’d expect in a wetland, and spent a fair bit of time next to a reedy area where Fernbird are regular. This was an unlikely suburban spot, but what did turn up was a singing Tomtit, which offered great views as well as a lovely song (which we had heard before at Cascade Kauri Reserve without recognising it). We spent the rest of the day enjoying the warm weather by the pool at Birder’s Rest. I couldn’t resist popping down to the ‘beach’ again later in the afternoon to have another stab at Fernbird, as I figured this was probably the only chance to get it.

On this visit I added 10 species to the Far North list and the day-list to typical high 20s. We went for dinner early in Kerikeri (Mexican) so that we could have a bash at Kiwis again, for better views. We were on the Pureora Peninsular much earlier this evening, before 7.30pm and we did really well for kiwis, seeing at least 12 birds, albeit they were super-skulky as before. Also heard another Morepork.

Sunday 8th April 2018

Kiwi was top single bird of the target list, but today’s pelagic was the day I was most excited about. We arose in the dark and got to Whangaroa Harbour in good time for our 07.00 departure. The crew on board that day were Detlef Davies, Clive, Hilda, Luke and Anna Sherwood, Jobe Chadwick and the 4 Seatons on the trip.

The Harbour was completely covered in fog and we wondered whether we would see anything all day! But sure enough around the marina we started to pick common birds up: Red-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern and Welcome Swallow. As we moved into the Harbour proper we added Kelp Gull, Caspian Tern, Australasian Gannet, Little Black Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Swamp Harrier and as we pulled away from the cliffs at the harbour entrance and missed cleared, a small group of Australian Magpie.

Heading towards Stephenson’s Island we started to see Fluttering Shearwater and then Buller’s Shearwater. Even before we reached Stephenson’s Island, we began to be followed by our first truly pelagic bird that turned into an ever-present companion, Black Petrel. As we cruised past the Island, Detlef had us scan the rock for Cape Barren Goose and we picked up a single bird on a piece of grass high above a cliff.

We continued to add birds as we headed out to the main shelf adding the first of a good few Fairy Prion, Flesh-footed Shearwater and a single brief view of a Little Shearwater. Looking for all the world like Little Auk, we also saw the first of a handful of Common Diving Petrel in this area.

When we finally reached the shelf, the skipper and Detlef started to chum the sea. This soon started to produce birds, including all the big-ticket items of the days. These included a White-capped Albatross, that stayed a short while with the boat but long enough for Detlef to photograph well. This was soon joined by a Black-browed Albatross that became a very faithful and obliging companion for a few hours, offering itself for multiple photographs. But the show-stopper for me in terms of birding-awesomeness was the immature Wandering Albatross (pictured) that quite literally wandered through our path on a few occasions. Only a full adult could have topped it! We also picked up 5 other rather distant albatross individuals that we could not identify to species.

Amidst all the excitement of the albatross party, stormies were also showing and we first identified from very close views Wilson’s Storm Petrel, then to our great joy, a good number of New Zealand Storm Petrel. These were close enough to photograph well and easily separate from Wilson’s through bins. Amazing to think that this bird was considered extinct just 15 years ago. To the hard-core pelagic birders I’m sure the highlight of the day would have been framed as picking up so many interesting ‘gadfly’ petrels, all seen in area on the edge of the continental shelf. These included Grey-faced Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, Gould’s Petrel (I admit I was relying on Detlef’s i.d. skills 100% on this one!) and Pycroft’s Petrel. A stunning crop of lifers.

Eventually it was time to return and in a stiff breeze that we tricky for some of the passengers. A disappointment of the day for most (apart from Detlef and I) was a complete lack of mammals. This was eventually partially compensated on our return past Stephenson’s Island as we picked up the much-sought-after-aboard Blue Penguin, although in smaller numbers than we had hoped.

After a brilliant day we went home shattered but happy.

Monday, 9th April 2018

Yesterday was amazing and formally heralded the end of the birdy middle section of the holiday. However, I decided to get up early to have one last bash at Fernbird so headed off to Skudder’s Beach (catching an unbelievably beautiful sunrise on the way). The briefest scan of the beach itself produced the sought-after Royal Spoonbill before I headed back to the marsh. As might be expected, morning was a better option for sought after species and I heard and eventually saw Fernbird quite easily. I also added Goldfinch for the Far North and then back to breakfast, goodbyes to Detlef and Carol then off on the road shortly after 09.00.

I had planned a couple of cheeky stops to pick up what we might miss elsewhere on the way. The first was Waro Lake, for ducks and grebes where we arrived at 10.46. A scenic and sunny spot, it was also the place that in my rush through I managed to leave my "Handbook to the Birds of NZ" in the car park. Didn't even have my name and address in it so had to replace it when I returned to the UK. However, at this site we did happily manage to catch up with New Zealand Scaup and New Zealand Dabchick along with a couple of common bits.

The next stop (and where I spotted the field guide was missing) was at Waipu Wildlife Refuge. This site needed scoping and could have really done with more time but was aware of the passengers and the call of Miranda ahead of us. Picked up 12 species including Red-breasted Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit. We had some lunch in the Waipu area and then continued to chug south through Auckland (where we stopped for an ice-cream in the city centre) and onwards into Waikato, where we spent the rest of our trip.

Somehow I had got seriously misled by the tide timetables so that when we arrived at Miranda at 16.44, instead of being less than hour after high tide we were in fact more than 3 hours after high tide. This created some panic but happily there was a warden with a scope in the first hide so we got to see some bits. In fact, we saw 16 species over the hour we were in and around the hide but these including a lot of goodies: Grey Teal, Banded Dotterel, Wrybill, Great Knot, Black-billed Gull and Yellowhammer.

That was the birding done for the day; we finished our journey to Claudelands in Hamilton, arriving there in the rain at about 19.30. A nice AirBnB would be our home for 2 nights whilst we basically did the touristy bit. Sallied forth in search of food and found a nice Turkish place called Babaganush. The weather was allegedly ‘turning to custard’ from around now onwards and we came out of the restaurant to more rain and some fallen branches as the wind had got up.

Tuesday, 10th April 2018

We were breakfasted and away from 15 Stanley Road before 08.00 and arrived at Hobbiton film set in Matamata in good time for our early tour. Weather was showery, but this was an unforgettably good day, as we are all massive Tolkein/Jacko fans. I kept a list for the site, which totalled 19 for the visit and added nothing to the trip except Eurasian Coot. After a truly splendid hobbit brew at the Green Dragon, we set off before midday to Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Again we were dodging the showers but enjoyed the visit to two caves in the complex. The bird I recorded in the 4 hours there was Fantail. We headed back to our second and final night at Claudelands.

Wednesday, 11th April 2018

Today was about travelling south through the geothermic middle of North Island and learning more about Maori culture. Weather again was indifferent (cool and showery), but we had another fascinating day. Our journey to Rotorua took us briefly into Bay of Plenty and we spent our time there based at Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village with a heavy tourist spin and some great-looking geysers. Noted a modest list of 5 birds here. Had lunch at the excellent Ciabatta Bakery.

Driving south through the geothermic region we reached Taupo about 15.30. The main reason for the stop was to visit tourist information to try to figure out how we might traverse the Tongariro Alpine Crossing tomorrow. We were told quite plainly, ‘its closed now for a few days’ – a ‘beast from the south’ had come in to spoil the fun; too much snow, etc. A little crestfallen we headed off to our final Airbnb at Turangi, at the south of the lake. After decamping here, my spirits were raised by a walk along the river at Majors Bridge, between 17:15 and 17:45. There, picked up a party of 3 Blue Duck, a pair of Pacific Black Duck, Black Shag and Bellbird (9 species in all). We spent a pleasant evening cooking, eating, drinking and playing games in the AirBnB.

Thursday, 12th April 2018

The final full day of the trip was spent doing a good bit of hiking. Having used eBird and Google Maps to try to locate a parking place, we finally successfully found one near the foot of the Urchin Peak Track, in the Kaimanawa Forest Park. We climbed up this residue of native forest and soon hit melting snow. An attractive walk without any lifers; I heard and Jobe thinks he saw Yellow-crowned Parakeet, but it was untickable. However, we did see 8 species and grew familiar with some of the forest bird’s calls. Also, above the tree line we had unforgettable views of the Tongariro area, including a snow-clad Mount Doom.

Friday, 13th April

So we reached last morning and I realised of the unseen lifers in NZ probably the easiest to see would be Shoveler. So we packed up from the AirBnB and diverted on the way back down to Taupo via Tokaanu Old Wharf Road (another site found from eBird). Here we birded for just 10 minutes mid-morning as we had a long journey ahead but we managed to pick up a final lifer in Australasian Shoveler and a ‘ho’ Dunnock added to the triplist.

From there we headed for a brief coffee stop at Taupo where we did some souvenir shopping and then we pulled in at the impressive Huka Falls where we added a few basic day ticks. We then had a long drive and detoured slightly for the sake of variety. We had bought a picnic so had a late lunch at the Karangahake Gorge, an interesting post-industrial area and again we added one or two birds to the day list.

A final site was a negotiated quick peek visit to the unmissable Miranda. Here we added Great White Egret and reviewed the fab waders on view. Leaving Miranda before 5pm, we drove through rain to Auckland, where we dropped off Poppy & Jobe downtown and said our goodbyes to them. We proceeded to the airport and home via Philippine Airlines and Manila.

Species Lists

Species List noting where birds first seen and those new for New Zealand (NZ), Australasia and Pacific (AP), or both (AP/NZ) and those in red font being lifers.

North Island Brown Kiwi (Brown Kiwi) - Pureora Peninsular: 2, 6 April (NZ/AP); 12, 7 April

New Zealand Dabchick (New Zealand Grebe) - 2 Waro Lake, 9 April (NZ/AP); 2 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April

Wandering Albatross - 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Black-browed Albatross (Black-browed Mollyhawk)
- 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

White-capped Albatross (White-capped Mollyhawk)
- 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

?albatross sp.? - 5 unidentified, 8 April

Flesh-footed Shearwater - 6 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Buller’s Shearwater - 23 Hauraki Gulf, 6 April (NZ/AP); 45 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April

Fluttering Shearwater - 6 April: 25 Hauraki Gulf (NZ/AP); 9 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 32 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April

Little Shearwater - 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Common Diving Petrel - 6 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Black Petrel (Parkinson’s Petrel) - 90 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Fairy Prion - 15 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Pycroft’s Petrel - 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Gould’s Petrel - 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Cook’s Petrel - 2 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Black-winged Petrel - 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP) (50th lifer)

Great-winged Petrel (Grey-faced Petrel) - 6 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Wilson’s Storm Petrel - 10 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

New Zealand Storm Petrel - 20 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Blue Penguin - 4 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Australasian Gannet - 4 Bethell’s Beach, 5 April (NZ/AP); 1 Hauraki Gulf, 6 April; 4 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April

Black Shag (Great Cormorant) - 1 Turangi, 11 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Pied Shag (Pied Cormorant) - 1 Piha, 3 April (NZ/AP); 5 April: 11 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 1 Bethell’s Beach; 6 April: 10 Gulf Harbour and Hauraki Gulf; 5 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 15 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; also 13 April

Little Black Shag (Little Black Cormorant) - 6 Lower Nihotupu Dam, 5 April (NZ/AP); 1 Gulf Harbour, 6 April; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 1 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April

Little Shag (Little Pied Cormorant) - 1 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 11 Lower Nihotupu Dam, 5 April; 6 April: 4 Gulf Harbour; 2 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 1 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 1 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

White-faced Heron - 2 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 5 April: 1 Huia Bridge; 11 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 9 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 9 April: 5 Waipu Wildlife Refuge; present at Miranda; 1 Turangi, 11 April; also 13 April

Great White Heron (Great White Egret) - 1 Miranda, 13 April

Royal Spoonbill - 9 April: 3 Skudder’s Beach (NZ/AP); 18 Miranda; also 13 April

Black Swan - 2 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 2 Bethell’s Beach, 5 April; 30 Tokaanu Old Wharf Road, 13 April

Cape Barren Goose - 1 Stephenson’s Island, 8 April (NZ/AP)

Paradise Shelduck - 3 April: 2 flew over Cascade Kauri PR, (NZ/AP); 4 Piha; 5 April: 1 Huia Bridge; 2 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 2 Bethell’s Beach; 3 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 17 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; Hobbiton, 10 April

Blue Duck - 3 Turangi, 11 April (NZ/AP)

Mallard - 6 Piha, 3 April (NZ/AP); 9 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 3 Huia Bridge, 5April; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 10 Hobbiton, 10 April

Grey Duck (Pacific Black Duck) - 2 Turangi, 11 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Grey Teal - 11 Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Brown Teal - 2 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Australasian Shoveler - 15 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April (NZ/AP)

New Zealand Scaup - 1 Waro Lake, 9 April (NZ/AP); 60 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April

Australasian Harrier (Swamp Harrier) - 2 Jonkers Farm, 4 April (NZ/AP); 1 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 2 Miranda, 9 April; 1 Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

California Quail - 3 Swanson, 3 April (NZ/AP)

Brown Quail - 1 Bethell’s Beach, 5 April (NZ/AP); 4 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April

Wild Turkey - 2 Jonkers Farm, 4 April (NZ/AP)

Australasian Swamphen (Purple Gallinule/Pukeko) - 10 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP); 5 April: 5 Huia Bridge; 5 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 4 Bethell’s Beach; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 2 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; Rotorua, 11 April; 1 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April

Takahe - 2 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Eurasian Coot - 1 Hobbiton, 10 April (NZ/AP)

Pied Oystercatcher (South Island Oystercatcher) - 50 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 5 April: 12 Huia Bridge; 2 Bethell’s Beach; 6 April: 12 Gulf Harbour; 3 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; also 13 April

Pied Stilt - 10 Lower Nihotupu Dam, 5 April (NZ/AP); 13 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 8 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; 120 Miranda, 13 April

Variable Oystercatcher - 6 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 6 April: 3 Gulf Harbour; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 9 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; also 13 April

Red-breasted Dotterel (New Zealand Plover) - 5 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April (NZ/AP)

Banded Dotterel (Double-banded Plover) - 2 Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Wrybill - 5 Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Masked Plover (Masked Lapwing/Spur-winged Plover)
- 4 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP); 2 Harbour View BR; 1 Jonkers Farm, 4 April; 5 April: 7 Huia Bridge; 2 Bethell’s Beach; 5 Gulf Harbour, 6 April; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; present Miranda, 9 April; Hobbiton, 10 April

Lesser Knot (Red Knot) - present Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Bar-tailed Godwit - 9 April: 1 Waipu Wildlife Refuge, (NZ/AP); 1, Miranda; also 13 April

Southern Black-backed Gull (Kelp Gull) - 5 Piha, 3 April (NZ/AP); 7 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 5 April: 2 Huia Bridge; 2 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 4 Bethell’s Beach; 6 April: 2 Hauraki Gulf; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 8 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 1, Waipu Wildlife Refuge, 9 April; 5 Rotorua; 3 Turangi, 11 April; 1 Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April

Red-billed Gull - 8 Piha, 3 April (NZ/AP); 7 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 1 Huia Bridge, 5 April; 7 Gulf Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, 6 April; 24 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 9 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 9 April: 6, Waro Lake; 2 Waipu Wildlife Refuge; 4 Turangi, 11 April

Black-billed Gull - 1 Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Caspian Tern - 9 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 1 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 1 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 1 Miranda, 13 April

White-fronted Tern - 10 Gulf Habour, 6 April (NZ/AP); 5 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 9 Whangaroa pelagic, 8 April; 1 Miranda, 13 April

New Zealand Pigeon - 3 April: 8 Cascade Kauri PR (NZ/AP); 2 Piha; 5 April: 1 Huia Bridge; 2 Bethell’s Beach; 2 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April

Barbary Dove (African Collared-Dove) - 1 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP)

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) - Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); Gulf Harbour, 6 April; 6 Hobbiton, 10 April

Spotted Dove - 3 April: 1 Cascade Kauri PR (NZ/AP); 1 Piha; 1 Huia Bridge, 5 April

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - 49 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP)

Eastern Rosella - 8 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP); 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April

Red-crowned Parakeet - 4 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Morepork (Southern Booboo) - 6 April: 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island (NZ/AP); heard only on Pureora Peninsular 6 & 7 April

Sacred Kingfisher - 2 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 5 April: 2 Huia Bridge; 3 Bethell’s Beach; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 1 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 9 April: 1 Waipu Wildlife Refuge; 1 Miranda; also 13 April

Rifleman - 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Skylark (Eurasian Skylark) - 3 Bethell’s Beach, 5 April (NZ/AP); ho Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 2 Miranda, 9 April; 3 Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

Welcome Swallow - 2 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 2 Piha, 3 April; 15 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 5 April: 1 Huia Bridge; 1 Bethell’s Beach; 6 April: 1 Gulf Harbour; 6 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 3 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 2 Whangaroa Harbour, 8 April; 4 Hobbiton, 10 April; 20 Turangi, 11 April; 1 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April

Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow) - heard singing Old Tokaanu Wharf, 13 April (NZ/AP)

Blackbird (Eurasian Blackbird) - 1 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 21 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April; 4 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 5 April: 1 Huia Bridge; 1 Bethell’s Beach; Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 3 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 7 Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

Song Thrush - 1 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 2 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April; 1 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 1 Huia Bridge, 5 April; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island

Fernbird - 2 Skudder’s Beach, 9 April (NZ/AP)

Whitehead - 23 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Grey Warbler (Grey Gerygone/Tiroriro) - 1 Harbour View BR, 4 April (NZ/AP); 1 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April

Grey Fantail (New Zealand Fantail) - 1 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 3 April: 15 Cascade Kauri PR; 6 Swanson; 1 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 2 Huia Bridge, 5 April; 25 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 6 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 15 Hobbiton, 10 April

New Zealand Tomtit (Tomtit) - singing male Skudder’s Beach, 7 April (NZ/AP); 8 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April

New Zealand Robin (North Island Robin) - 6 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP) (50th); 1 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April

Silvereye (Silver-eye) - abundant Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 3 April: 15 Cascade Kauri PR; 2 Swanson; 5 April: 2 Huia Bridge; 5 Bethell’s Beach; present Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; Hobbiton, 10 April; Turangi, 11 April; 11 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April; also 13 April

Bellbird - 26 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP); heard Turangi, 11 April; 3 heard 1 seen Kaimanawa FP, 12 April

Stitchbird - 24 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)
Tui - 11 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP); 5 Jonkers Farm, 4 April; 2 Huia Bridge, 5 April; 20 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 3 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 3 Hobbiton, 10 April; 1 Rotorua, 11 April; Kaimanawa FP, 12 April; also 13 April

Yellowhammer - 2 Miranda, 9 April (NZ/AP); also 13 April

Chaffinch - 3 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP); Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 1 Hobbiton, 10 April; 1 Kaimanawa FP, 12 April; also 13 April

Greenfinch - 5 April: 2 Huia Bridge (NZ/AP); 1 Bethell’s Beach

Goldfinch - 2 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April (NZ/AP)
April; 7 Bethell’s Beach, 5 April; 6 April: 8 Gulf Harbour; 9 April: 6 Skudder’s Beach; present Miranda

House Sparrow - abundant Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 10 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April; 8 Harbour View BR: 6 April: 4 Gulf Harbour; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 2 Waro Lake, 9 April; 5 Hobbiton, 10 April; Rotorua, 11 April; also 13 April

Starling (Common Starling) - Swanson: abundant, 2 April (NZ/AP) and 3 April; Piha, 3 April; 4 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 5 April: 5 Huia Bridge; 3 Bethell’s Beach; 2 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; 10 Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

Common Myna - abundant Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); Cascade Kauri PR and Piha, 3 April; 8 Harbour View BR, 4 April; 5 April: 6 Huia Bridge; 3 Lower Nihotupu Dam; 3 Bethell’s Beach; 5 Skudder’s Beach, 7 April; present Miranda, 9 April; 3 Hobbiton, 10 April; Rotorua, 11 April; also 13 April

Kokako - 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Saddleback (North Island Saddleback) - 25 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April (NZ/AP)

Australian Magpie - 4 Swanson, 2 April (NZ/AP); 3 Cascade Kauri PR, 3 April; 2 Lower Nihotupu Dam, 5 April; 1 Tiritiri Matangi Island, 6 April; 4 Whangaroa Harbour, 8 April; 7 Hobbiton, 10 April; also 13 April

94 (68)

Conclusion and Summary

As birding was a secondary objective, I’m not sure I could have hoped for a better trip. Despite the historic depletion of endemics, New Zealand still provides a rich and fascinating birding opportunity.

Personal lists:

94 New Zealand ticks
94 Australasia and Pacific ticks
68 lifers
1 half-ticks


New Zealand Storm Petrel

Day lists:

2nd April 2018 10 day ticks 4 lifers (Swanson)
3rd April 2018 25 day ticks 9 lifers (Cascade Kauri Park Reserve; Swanson; Piha)
4th April 2018 25 day ticks 8 lifers (Harbour View Beach Reserve; Jonkers Farm)
5th April 2018 31 day ticks 4 lifers (Huia Bridge; Lower Nihotupu Dam; Bethell’s Beach)
6th April 2018 36 day ticks 15 lifers (Gulf Harbour; Hauraki Gulf; Tiritiri Matangi Island; Pureora Peninsular)
7th April 2018 29 day ticks 1 lifer (Skudder’s Beach)
8th April 2018 29 day ticks 16 lifers (Whangaroa pelagic trip)
9th April 2018 28 day ticks 9 lifers (Skudder’s Beach; Waro Lake, Waipu Wildlife Refuge, Miranda)
10th April 2018 19 day ticks 0 lifers (Hobbiton Movie Set)
11th April 2018 13 day ticks 2 lifers (Rotorua, Turangi)
12th April 2018 8 day ticks 0 lifers (Kaimanawa Forest Park)
13th April 2018 39 day ticks 1 lifer (Tokaanu Old Wharf Road; Huka Falls, Karangahake Gorge, Miranda)