On the South Island of New Zealand, a “kee-ah!” echoes through the emerald mountains. It’s the call of the endangered kea—the world’s only alpine parrot, and one of the most intelligent and spunky birds on the planet. The kea is just one of the many spectacular, rare birds endemic to New Zealand. We’ll get to know them—and a flock of other new feathered friends—as we explore the island through the lens of conservation. Join us as we set out into the mountains, through breathtaking fjords, and around mighty glaciers, following “kee-ahs!” and tracking various avian species as we go. We’ll chat with field biologists, conservation-focused vintners, and ornithologists. We'll delve into subjects ranging from the roles extinct birds played in Māori life prior to colonization to what a takahē likes to eat for lunch. Our journey will take us through some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth—from the mountains of Fiordland National Park to Franz Josef Glacier and through massive stacks of pancake-like rocks.
The listed price of this trip is per person based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.
Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $1,275. After booking your trip, please request a private room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll add the option to your booking and final balance.
Travelers should feel comfortable walking two to six miles over the course of each day, spending time in nature, remaining on their feet for long periods of time, and sometimes walking on uneven terrain.
We'll be spending one night aboard the Fiordland Navigator boat. Guests will be housed in mixed-gender, quad share cabins. Most of your time aboard the boat will be spent outside your rooms exploring the boat—you can go right up front to see the best views, chat with the captain and look at nautical charts in the bridge, talk with nature guides on the viewing deck, or lounge in the bar/restaurant area, where you'll be treated to a delicious buffet dinner (and seriously, it's yum!)
Our trip begins with a welcome dinner in Christchurch on Day 1. We recommend you arrive by 1 p.m. that day so you can clear customs, settle into your accommodations, and meet our guide and fellow travelers in time for dinner. Our trip concludes in the afternoon on Day 11 where you'll be dropped off either in central Queenstown or at the airport in time for domestic flights out after 5:00 p.m. or international flights after 6:00 p.m.
In New Zealand, summer lasts from November until March, with January and February being the warmest months. The rain in New Zealand is geographic in nature; the west coast is wetter than the east, so you’ll typically experience a mixed bag as you move throughout the country. Rain can happen at any time of year, and it is not uncommon to experience three seasons in one day. We like to think that there's no such thing as bad weather—only bad preparation! Pack well and you'll be happy.
We can cater to all dietary restrictions and allergies—just let us know at the time of booking. We’ll eat out at local restaurants and dine in with delicious home-cooked meals prepared by our guide. Lunches are often picnic-style and eaten outdoors, while breakfasts are family-style. We’ll have a snack basket on the bus and water available at all times.
Visa requirements for New Zealand vary depending on traveler citizenship. If you’re visiting New Zealand for three months or less, and are a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, or the European Union, you’ll need to go online to secure your Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) and pay the Tourism Levy. The ETA is NZ$12 (NZ$9 on the free app) and the Tourism Levy is NZ$35. Australian citizens are exempt from both fees, but Australian permanent residents need to pay the ETA.
Please check requirements for travel to New Zealand and any countries passed through in transit. A passport is required for international travel. We recommend your passport expire at least six months after your return home.
A portion of the proceeds from your trip will be donated to the following conservation projects: the Department of Conservation, Aspiring Bio-diversity Trust, The Kea Conservation Trust, and the Kiwi Birdlife Conservation Park. By sharing your experience with friends and family, you can also help to spread awareness about New Zealand's delicate ecosystem and the best ways for visitors to have a positive impact. As you begin to prepare for your trip, and while we’re together, we’ll provide some guidance on how to reduce waste and minimize impact while in New Zealand.