Wildlife Adventure to New Zealand

Christchurch, Kaikoura & Canterbury District, Otago & The Southern Alps, Southland & The Fiords, West Coast & Abel Tasman National Park

Duration: 19 nights

Price: From $8,450 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including accommodation, some meals, all internal flights, car hire, boat transportation, experiences as stated and taxes

Discover New Zealand’s diverse and colourful wildlife on this adventure-packed self-drive wildlife vacation which sees you travelling around the South Island in search of inhabitants including a wide range of birdlife such as the country’s legendary but elusive emblem, the kiwi, and some of the smallest and rarest wildlife and marine life of their type, such as the Hector’s dolphin and the yellow-eyed penguin, as well as whales and fur seals. In between, enjoy scenic helicopter rides, beautiful walks and cruises, jetboating adventures and mountaintop picnics.
Perfect forAnimal lovers, and those who want to make the most of New Zealand’s great outdoors, from couples to families.
In the knowWe recommend extending your trip to explore the North Island, for more colourful wildlife and spectacular scenery.

Best for

  • Eco-tourism
  • Landscapes & Scenery
  • Off the Beaten Track
  • Wildlife & Nature

All Exsus Travel holidays are tailor-made

All itineraries on our website are designed as a starting point. Tell us your budget/wishlist/preferred length of stay and we'll help you select the best hotels and experiences, so your holiday is totally personalised.

Call +1 347 809 3426 or Make an enquiry

Itinerary details



Fly into Christchurch and shake off the jetlag with a walk around the bars, restaurants and boutiques, and a rest at the elegant George hotel, an award-winning boutique retreat in a green and leafy setting overlooking Hagley Park and the River Avon, yet within easy walking distance of many of the city’s landmarks and attractions, including the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Borrow one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes for a ride around the city – a nice way to get some fresh air and do a bit of sightseeing at the same time – and return for an exquisite dinner in the restaurant.
Read More

2 nightsOAMARU

Today, you’ll drive to Oamaru and Pen-y-Bryn Lodge, which, as with many heritage buildings here, is full of history and character, and thanks to its hillside setting, it offers sweeping views of Oamaru and the South Pacific beyond. Visit the Blue Penguin Colony, just 2km away, to see the smallest penguins in the world returning from a day spent fishing in the sea to their nesting sites below the cliffs.

Nearby, see the enigmatic and photogenic Moeraki Boulders, giant stone spheres scattered along a sandy beach, and make your way to the Moeraki lighthouse to see rare yellow-eyed penguins. A further short walk will bring you to Shag Point and its fur seal population.
Read More

2 nightsDUNEDIN

Drive on to Dunedin and the Kaimata Retreat, which is half an hour from the city on the Otago Peninsula. This stylish eco-lodge shares its beautiful waterfront setting and wonderful views with seals, sea lions, penguins and albatrosses, and each room is named after a local bird.

Visit the world’s only mainland colony of Northern Royal albatrosses at the tip of the peninsula, see yellow-eyed penguins at the Sandfly Bay Wildlife Refuge and enjoy exclusive wildlife tours with knowledgeable local guides, where you’ll be taken to a private beach to see penguins, fur seals and a variety of sea birds. We also recommend a visit to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, a conservation centre where you can see a wide range of native wildlife, many of which has been brought back from extinction, including the tuatara, a lizard-like reptile endemic to New Zealand, whose Maori name means ‘peaks on the back’.

There are several walking tracks here which, as well as being a great way to explore the area, also offer numerous wildlife-spotting opportunities. You can even birdwatch from your private terrace, and if you fancy getting a bird's eye view of the peninsula, enjoy a scenic helicopter flight over the coastline.
Read More

2 nightsCURIO BAY

Your next destination is Curio Bay, in the remote Catlins, a beautiful and off-the-beaten-track corner of the South Island, where you’ll find sweeping beaches and forests that are millions of years old – the fossilised remains of an ancient Jurassic forest is exposed on the bay at low tide, stretching for 20km towards Slope Point.

Curio Bay is home to Hector’s dolphins, one of the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world, and you’ll also see penguins nesting around the bay and sea lions and fur seals basking along the coastline. 

Your boutique hotel, Curio Bay, sits right on the sands of the bay, and penguins nest in the gardens. Step right onto the beach from your terrace, watch dolphins surf the waves and sea lions frolic on the beach from your bed, and see the penguins return from the sea at dusk. The nearby Porpoise Bay has a lovely sandy beach and is a popular spot for swimming, and you can walk through the native forests around waterfalls and caves.
Read More


Today, you’ll drive to Invercargill and catch the boat to Stewart Island. This pristine wilderness is largely made up of native forest, wetlands, undulating sand dunes and a craggy coastline of sheer cliffs dropping down to sandy beaches, with Rakiura National Park making up 85% of the island.

This sparsely populated island is one of the most southerly inhabited points in the world – there are just a few uninhabited islands between here and Antarctica – and it is a haven for wildlife, including a wide range of other birds. This one of the best places in New Zealand to see the kiwi, the country’s national bird – head to the beach at dusk as it comes to forage for insects.

Out on the water, go kayaking around the coast or enjoy a cruise around Paterson Inlet, stopping off at Ulva Island, where you can walk through primeval rainforest, see numerous native and rare birds and plants, and learn about the Maori and European history of the area.

Your hotel, Stewart Island Lodge, is nestled in native forest that is home to birds such as the kaka (parrot), and overlooks Halfmoon Bay and the ocean.
Read More

2 nightsWANAKA

Wanaka is clustered around its namesake lake, framed by the forests, glaciers and mountains beyond – a postcard-perfect setting. Your hotel, Whare Kea Lodge, has a prime position overlooking the lake. Its name means ‘house of the kea’ in Maori: the kea is the world’s only alpine parrot, and can be seen in the surrounding mountains.

Enjoy scenic walks around the lake and the alpine landscapes, and experience an adrenaline-fuelled jetboat trip on the Matukituki River, flanked by snow-capped mountains. Or consider the ‘Flight of the Kea’, an action-packed half-day trip which takes in a wilderness walk, a helicopter flight and a gourmet picnic at the Whare Kea chalet high in the mountains, with incredible views at every turn.

On your return to the lodge, unwind and relax in the hot tub.
Read More


Lake Moeraki sits on the Moeraki River on the South Island’s west coast, within the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Te Wahipounamu park, where you can explore spectacular coastlines, jagged cliffs and pristine fiords and waterfalls. Unsurprisingly, this is a haven for wildlife, including penguins and seals, as well as birds such as the kea and the rare and endangered takahe (a large flightless bird).  

At your hotel, the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, you can enjoy daily complimentary activities with expert naturalist guides, including coastal and rainforest trails where you can climb over volcanic boulders, walk through ancient rainforest and see fur seals and Hector’s dolphins, as well as learn about the inhabitants of the Moeraki River and feed giant freshwater eels. In the evening, enjoy night-time stargazing and glow-worm spotting.

A definite highlight here is the penguins: the distinctive and rare tawaki/Fiordland crested penguins can only be found in this area of New Zealand, and your guide will take you to the prime spots to see them on the wild beaches of Moeraki - watch them cross the sand from the Tasman Sea to their nests (uniquely amongst penguins, the tawakis make their nests deep in the rainforest).
Read More


Enjoy a scenic route to Arthur’s Pass in the Southern Alps: as it makes its way through Arthur’s Pass National Park, it reaches almost 900 metres and offers incredible views as you drive around vast beech forests, high viaducts, deep valleys and pristine rivers and waterfalls.

The Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge is set on a 6,000-acre farm and nature reserve, surrounded by glacier-fed rivers and snow-capped mountains. Amongst the many activities on offer here (some complimentary), immerse yourself in the landscapes on a birdwatching tour or a scenic hike, keeping an eye out for keas and spotting penguins and seals on the shores. You can also go kayaking on tranquil mountain lakes, and on the farm, see merino sheep being sheared and watch the sheepdogs at work.
Read More

2 nightsKAIKOURA

In the attractive coastal town of Kaikoura, the mountains of the Seaward Kaikoura Range rise from the ocean, and the mineral-rich waters are full of marine life. It is renowned for dolphin and whale spotting – see them, as well as colonies of fur seals, on land on a coastal walk or out on the water on a cruise. Kaikoura is also known as the seabird capital – see albatrosses swooping over the mountains and the coastline. Not surprisingly, the seafood is good here too – make sure you try the crayfish, which is a local speciality.

Stay at Manakau Lodge, which is set in five acres of stunning scenery, surrounded by mountains and overlooking the South Pacific. There are walking trails from the doorstep, and you can also explore secluded beaches and coastal reserves.
Read More

Hotel locations for this itinerary

Hotels we've recommended for this trip

More itineraries in New Zealand


call us on +1 347 809 3426 to start planning your perfect trip

Make an enquiry