Photo by: Cathy & Gordon Illg
Location: Kaikoura New Zealand
New Zealand North and South Island
Sponsored by Houston Audubon Society
- Due to conservation efforts you will have opportunities to capture birds you cannot capture anywhere else in the world on Tiri Tiri Matangi Island and Stewart Island
- Magnificent Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park
- Mount Cook National Park and the
- Early morning photography of both the Southern Alps and Lake Moeraki
- Take an optional helicopter flight on to the Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers
- Photograph in the sheep station high-country, part of New Zealand’s economy and culture
- Relax and photograph in a stunning location at Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Optional extension to photograph the architecture and gardens of Christchurch, and the Kaikoura Coast for wildlife
per person, double occupancy*
*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 8 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-7 participants. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $1195.
Nowhere in the world can one find such a land as New Zealand for sheer beauty and scale. Volcanoes, glaciers, high mountains, fiords, tussock lands, and geothermal springs — the country is a treasure trove of natural wonders. New Zealand is also one of the world leaders in bird conservation. You’ll travel north to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island, south to Stewart Island, and the optional Kaikoura Coast extension to photograph the amazing native birds. Birds you cannot find...
Nowhere in the world can one find such a land as New Zealand for sheer beauty and scale. Volcanoes, glaciers, high mountains, fiords, tussock lands, and geothermal springs — the country is a treasure trove of natural wonders. New Zealand is also one of the world leaders in bird conservation. You’ll travel north to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island, south to Stewart Island, and the optional Kaikoura Coast extension to photograph the amazing native birds. Birds you cannot find anywhere else are the kiwis, New Zealand parrots and wrens, Stitchbird, Mohuids, and wattlebirds.
All this and taking in some of the most dramatic scenery in the world on the South Island. The itinerary will be moving about photographing the diverse landscape and changing colors of its breathtaking beauty, with towering peaks, glaciers, majestic fiords, and pristine lakes. The pace will be relaxed at Milford sound and Arthur’s Pass National Park with three evenings in each.
What To Expect: Trip Focus, Activities, And Accommodations
This trip is designed to show you New Zealand’s natural wonders with the focus on photography. We use local guides, who have a wealth of information to share. Where possible, we favor lodges and smaller hotels and motels located close to natural areas, rather than larger tourist hotels located in shopping or resort areas. Accommodations are not always luxurious, but they are comfortable and clean. Meals consist of hearty buffet-style breakfasts and lunches, and either buffet dinners or set menus, usually with a choice of two or more entrees and desserts.
The trip is not strenuous and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most activities. There will be long flights to and from New Zealand with many hours in the air. The change in time zones will add to the general travel fatigue. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators.
Although health services are good, in some areas medical care may be several hours away. If you have any special needs or if you have any physical condition that might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo International with your concerns (607-423-2525).
October 7-8: Home
Leave home today for Auckland, New Zealand, flying across the Pacific. Two days are lost in route as you cross the International Date Line.
Flights need to be booked multi-city for all participants: Home to AKL (Auckland), North Island and (Christchurch) CHC, South Island to Home. (Meals on plane)
*Note: If you would like to depart earlier to rest and get over jet lag in Auckland, Strabo Tours can make these arrangements, please contact us for details.
October 9: Auckland
You will arrive in Auckland and have the day to adjust and explore on your own. Check in time is typically 3PM. OVERNIGHT AUCKLAND. Meals on own
October 10: Tiri Tiri Matangi Island
This morning meet your local guide after breakfast, as the group will depart for the ferry to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf. This island is home to superb coastal Pohutukawa (Meterosideros) forest and endangered bird species such as saddleback, takahe, brown teal, red crowned parakeet, and stitchbird. The opportunities for photography are tremendous. The island is also an excellent example of just what can be achieved by conservation volunteers involved in a major re-vegetation project. There is even a slight chance of an endangered Tuatara today, while the largest of the NZ weta, wetapunga occur in the forest. Mid-afternoon return to Auckland. (B=breakfast, L=lunch , D=dinner)
October 11: Twizel
The flight is included this morning for the group to fly to the South Island, Christchurch. Explore the Mount Cook region, with arid landscapes around the lakes, including Tekapo, and maybe another area if time permits. Arrive in time to do afternoon sunset photography on the mountains. OVERNIGHT TWIZEL B, L, D
October 12-14: Milford Sound
Enjoy pre-dawn/Sunrise photography on the Southern Alps, followed by breakfast. Today will be your longest day in the vehicle. It will be well worth it with three evenings to enjoy in Milford Sound. Make your way toward Milford Sound with photography locations along the way. Leave the Mackenzie Basin and the Waitaki Valley and cross into the rural heartland of the South Island. The road follows the upper Mataura Valley.
You’ll have another two evenings in this stunning location of Fiordland, New Zealand’s largest national park. This will allow for time to explore on your own or with Kathy and be able to work on images during photography discussions. Recent glacially gouged valleys and lakes nestled between range upon range of mountains characterise the landscape. Enjoy a sunrise shoot on Lake Manapouri one morning, then then take an afternoon cruise on Milford Sound. OVERNIGHT MILFORD SOUND (B; B, L, D; B)
October 15-16: Stewart Island
The group must leave this wild land and cross the southern South Island to arrive in Invercargill. There will be a ferry across Fouveaux Strait to Stewart Island. There will be late afternoon/evening exploration of the forest and coastal tracks in the vicinity of the village. This evening there is an excursion to seek out the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi feeding in the wild.
Removed from reality on this idyllic hideaway we discover the grand diversity on this isle, the least modified of the three main islands of New Zealand. This afternoon take a short boat trip across Paterson Inlet to near-pristine Ulva Island. There are carpets of bryophytes and liverworts. Above are flightless Weka birds, and threatened Robins, Saddlebacks, Yellowheads, Kaka parrots and smaller red crowned parakeets. Opportunities abound for forest and coastal bird photography. OVERNIGHT OBAN (B, L, D; B)
October 17-18: Lake Moeraki
Ferry back to the mainland this morning. Travel through the Central Otago lakes region and over Haast Pass to the tumultuous yet spectacular West Coast. Stay amidst the spectacular primeval rainforests at Lake Moeraki.
There is potential for early morning photography on Lake Moeraki. Walk down to nearby Munroe’s beach and who knows there may even be a rare Fiordland Crested Penguin to view. The track winds down through stunning lush West Coast rain forest, and Kokopu live in the stream. Alternatively you can opt to take a special guided walk to a remote beach to watch returning Fiordland penguins come ashore. Early morning and evening strolls from the lodge for nocturnal life such as glow-worms and Ruru, and to view eels living in the Moeraki River. OVERNIGHT LAKE MOERAKI (B, D; B, D)
October 19-21: Arthur's Pass National Park
Depart this morning and travel through the Fox Glacier region. There will be many photo opportunities and there will be time for an optional helicopter ride over Fox Glacier and Franz Josef, perhaps with excellent views of Mt. Cook. Continue northeast and make your way towards Arthur’s Pass National Park. Your accommodations are amidst the spectacular upper Waimakrariri Valley and surrounded by forest and mountains. Your lodge is the perfect setting for your final days in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will be full of discovering the scenic grandeur of this mountainous region, the high-country sheep stations, reflections on Lake Pearson, and the forests of Arthur’s Pass National Park. You’ll have another day to relax in this beautiful location with plenty to photograph. Amidst the foothills of the Southern Alps. OVERNIGHT ARTHUR’S PASS (B, D; B, L, D; B, L, D)
October 22: Home - or Optional Christchurch Kaikoura Extension
Enjoy sunrise photography this morning around the hotel. Depart in time to make your way back to Christchurch for afternoon flights home. (B)
October 22-25, 2025
* Based upon minimum of 6 participants. Single room surcharge is $285.
October 22-24: Christchurch - Kaikoura Coast
After completion of main tour, a leisurely half day exploration of Christchurch, a city of gardens, delightful architecture, and a city rebuilding after a devastating earthquake in 2010.
The next day drive north from Christchurch to the dramatic Kaikoura coast. A feature of the day is a delightful Albatross seabird excursion with excellent opportunities to photograph these wonderful ocean monarchs along with a wide array of other seabirds, and possibly also Dusky and Hector’s Dolphins. The birdlife of New Zealand is far more diverse and richer than that on land. On this trip we will look out in particular for the local endemic Hutton’s Shearwater. The endemic Westland Black Petrel is found in these waters while we may also view Flesh Footed Shearwater, White Chinned Petrel, Buller’s Mollymawk, Salvins Mollymawk, Wandering Albatross. Late afternoon return to Christchurch.
Your last day will be exploring more of Christchurch on foot. Enjoy the beautiful sights, optional museum visits, or wander with Kathy, photographing this beautiful city. OVERNIGHT CHRISTCHURCH (D; B, D; B)
October 25: Christchurch - Home
Given time enjoy a bit more photography this morning. Transfer in time to Christchurch Airport for your flight home. (B)