Kiwi bird spotting on Stewart Island

stewart-island-brown-kiwi-223Not many people get to see a kiwi in the wild. These are shy birds, whose numbers have plummeted because of their vulnerability to predators and changes to their habitat.

On quiet, remote Stewart Island, the birds – the tokoeka species – fare better, because there are no predators and few people, making it one of the best places in New Zealand to experience them in their natural habitat.

Kiwi spotting is just one of the highlights of our 8-day guided cycle tour from Queenstown to Dunedin, which includes two days on tranquil Stewart Island. This is a tour that takes you deep into rural South Island life; quiet roads, stunning scenery and firsthand encounters with the local wildlife. Here’s what you’ll experience…

Day 1: Queenstown to Te Anau
You set out along the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, before hitting the rolling, rural roads of upper Southland, en route to your overnight stop in the township of Te Anau, perched on the edge of the dramatic Fiordland National Park.

Day 2: Te Anau to Otautau
The lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri provide the backdrop to your morning riding, before the road heads south through an ever-changing landscape. Stark arid mountains give way to more gentle pastures as you enter Southland farm country. Tonight you’ll stay with Kiwi farmer hosts and get the opportunity to tour their farm.

Day 3: Otautau to Stewart Island
Rural riding through farmland and beech-forests, before you hit the windswept coast and approach Invercargill, New Zealand’s southern-most city. At Bluff you’ll board your ferry for the short voyage across Feauvoux Straight to Stewart Island.

Day 4: Stewart Island
Known as a wildlife sanctuary, Stewart Island and the Rakiura National Park provide plenty of opportunities for exploration. Take a hike to Ulva Island bird sanctuary, sea kayak in magical Patterson Inlet, relax on one of the many lovely beaches, hop aboard a local bus or boat tour or head out deep on a fishing charter. Not to be missed is the evening’s Kiwi Spotting tour, a unique experience to watch these shy birds digging for their dinner on a local beach.

Day 5: Stewart Island to Catlins
The route today skirts the beautiful and undiscovered Catlins Forest Park and coastline. The roads are quiet and the scenery diverse. The ride ends at beautiful Curio Bay for a leisurely picnic by the sea, a swim for the brave (or foolhardy) and a visit to the petrified forest(!) on the seashore. This is a renowned wildlife area so watch out for fur seals, yellow eyed penguins and the rare Hector’s dolphins.

Day 6: Catlins to Owaka
More scenic cycling along quiet roads as you continue along the Catlins coast. The cycling is tough with some serious climbs but the rewarding views of the coastline make it all worthwhile. Picnic by the sea before climbing back onto the saddle for the final push to Owaka. Late afternoon we’ll drive out to Surat Bay for a walk on this remote and beautiful beach and pay a visit to the resident sea lions.

Day 7: Owaka to Dunedin
You’ll ride out to Nugget Point to admire the spectacular views, before continuing on to Balclutha for lunch. In the afternoon you have the option to drive over the busy highway section to Milton; from here a serious climb will challenge you before you drop down to the coast for the final, gentle ride along the beach into Dunedin.

Day 8: Dunedin – Departure Day
Sadly your tour ends today after breakfast but there are plenty of options for more adventures. Talk to your tour guide about riding out to the spectacular Otago Peninsular.

Join us for this tour

We currently have a limited number of spaces available on an upcoming Queenstown to Dunedin tour, which gets underway on 26 March. The tour costs $2995.00 NZD per person, which includes:

  • Seven nights of 3-star twin share accommodation.
  • Seven days of delicious breakfasts and five days of lunches and dinners. (We leave you free to sample local cafes/restaurants on certain days).
  • Support vehicle to whisk you up the steep bits.
  • Luggage transfer for lightweight touring.
  • Knowledgeable, friendly tour guide.
  • High quality bike hire.

Late-March is a perfect time to experience the South Island as the weather should still be fine and settled…but not too hot or too cold!

To enquire about booking this tour, please get in touch with us today.

Image of the kiwi bird: Department of Conservation.