5 Curious Creatures you might meet in New Zealand

06 October 20

New Zealand is a land of unique nature and wildlife and you are bound to encounter some on your holiday, whether in the wild or in a rehabilitation sanctuary. 

Below are some of the curious creatures you may meet during your New Zealand holiday with GPT. 

Kiwi Bird

The Kiwi are native land birds of New Zealand. Unable to fly, they forage the forest floors using their brown, hairlike feathers for cover and external nostrils at the end of their long beaks to dig for food. 

In 2019, it was estimated there was only around 68,000 kiwis left, with three main threats being predators, habitat loss and people. There are dedicated conversation organisations throughout New Zealand that are working hard to protect the Kiwi bird and bring them back from the brink of extinction. 

They are rarely spotted in the wild, so depending on your choice of tour, you may visit a kiwi conservation area such as the National Kiwi Hatchery Tour on our 19 Day Ultimate Rail, Cruise & Coach Experience. 

Dolphins

The Hector’s dolphins are amongst the smallest dolphins in the world, growing no more than 1.5m in length. They have a unique rounded dorsal fin with skin made of subtle shades of grey and black. Adults weigh between 40-60kg, with the males being slightly smaller and lighter than females.

Hector's dolphins are classed as “nationally endangered” with their population thought to be around 10,000. However, the subspecies of Maui dolphins only has around 55 left.

The Hector’s dolphin was named after Sir James Hector, the curator of the first Colonial Museum in Wellington (now named Te Papa). Sir James Hector lived from 1834 to 1907 and examined the first dolphin specimen that was found.

Hector’s dolphins can be found along the coastline of the South Island, especially in places like Akaroa, which you can visit on our 11 Day Top of the South Island Tour.

New Zealand Fur Seal

New Zealand’s Fur Seals are abundant on the South Island coastlines, particularly around Kaikoura, the Catlins and Fiordland National Park. They are dark in colour and can be distinguished by their external ear flaps and hind flippers which rotate forward, allowing them to move quickly on land.

Once hunted for their meat, New Zealand fur seals are now a protected species and their population is increasing. The breeding season takes place from mid-November to mid-January and is a phenomenal sight with dominant bulls displaying posturing and fighting with other males just prior to the breeding season to gain territories.

Tuatara

The tuatara’s existence dates back some 200 million years ago to the time of the dinosaurs. They are a medium-sized reptile, only found in New Zealand. Tuatara are special because they are the only surviving members of the order Sphenodontia, a species which otherwise became extinct about 60 million years ago.

Tuatara have a parietal eye or third eye in the top of their head that is covered by skin. Its function is a subject of ongoing research, but it is believed to be useful in absorbing ultraviolet rays.

The introduction of rats with European settlement threatened the tuatara but they are rebuilding numbers in conservation areas throughout New Zealand that are predator-free. One place to see a tuatara is at the Kiwi Bird Life Park, a great optional attraction for your free day in Queenstown.

Albatross

Dunedin is home to the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world. On a breezy day, you may see them fly by with their huge 3-metre wingspan. Albatross are among the longest-living birds, ageing up to about 40 years old.

The Peninsula is also home to another of Dunedin's favourite attractions, Larnach Castle. One of the city's most distinctive landmarks, exploring the castle and its grounds is an enjoyable part of your New Zealand Holiday. 

Start planning your next New Zealand Holiday. Order an 80-page Coach Holidays brochure at www.gptnz.com/brochures

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