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The Best Places to Spot Wildlife in New Zealand

By December 23, 2019January 7th, 2020One Comment

New Zealand really is a country unlike any other. Its varied natural landscapes have been attracting tourists for decades, with rugged mountain ranges, vast crystal-clear lakes, beautiful beaches and lush forests all on offer. And with these diverse landscapes comes a huge variety of amazing wildlife. Animal lovers will rejoice as they explore this amazing country, as they have the opportunity to spot whales, dolphins, penguins, lizards, birdlife and much more! If you’re looking at vacations to New Zealand and wondering where to go to spot various species, check out our top tips below.

Blue penguins: Oamaru

On the South Island just north of Dunedin lies Oamaru, Otago. Head here to spot the smallest species of penguin in the world – the blue penguin. These magnificent creatures can be found along the coast of New Zealand, but it is in Oamaru where you can get the closest to them in their natural habitat. There is a colony around the harbour where you can watch them return from catching fish at sea and waddle around to find their loved ones.

Whales, dolphins and seals: Kaikoura


Kaikoura lies on the coast of the South Island to the north of Christchurch. It is well known for its varied wildlife, particularly sea creatures such as whales, dolphins and seals. Tourists can head out to sea with one of the many tour operators in the town to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. The giant sperm whale lives here all year round, so you’ll likely spot them in the water, as well as dusky dolphins. At certain times of year you may also see humpback and blue whales.

Kiwis: Rotorua

Perhaps the most iconic creature in New Zealand, kiwis are small, flightless birds native to the country. There are actually six species of kiwis, but they are incredibly hard to spot in the wild so your best bet is to head to Rotorua where you can see them at Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park. They’re the world’s leading kiwi conservation centre and operate guided tours of their hatchery, so you can get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.

Sea lion: The Catlins

The Catlins is an area on the southernmost tip of the South Island between Balclutha and Invercargill. It is home to a huge variety of wildlife including penguins, dolphins and of course the New Zealand sea lion, often referred to as Hooker’s sea lion or Whakahao in Māori. They are one of the rarest species of sea lion in the world, so it really is an amazing opportunity to spot them in their natural habitat.

There are some amazing places across New Zealand that are home to a huge variety of wildlife. The question is – where will you head to first?

Pure Wander Contributor

Author Pure Wander Contributor

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