New Zealand Tour - 2016

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(This article is under development and more photographs of flora and fauna will be added)

 Lycaena caerulia


NZ Fantail


Caladenia alpina

Western Alpine Boulder Copper
(Lycaena caerulea)
  New Zealand Fantail
(Rhipidura fuliginosa)
  White Fingers Orchid
(Caladenia alpina)


My tour of New Zealand was arranged as a 'bespoke' tour in conjunction with 'Discover the World', who provided much assistance during the planning phase and made all the necessary bookings.  It was a comprehensive tour by self-drive car, covering both main islands, plus a visit to Stewart Island in the far south. 

New Zealand has a unique flora, dominated by ferns and mosses, with extensive native podocarp forests containing, in addition, a wide variety of tree ferns.  In terms of fauna, however, much of the indigenous wildlife was destroyed, as a result of the introduction of alien species.  There were no native mammals, apart from a couple of species of bats, but there were many types of flightless birds, which had spread to occupy a wide variety of environmental niches.  Unfortunately, once predators, such as rats, stoats, and hedgehogs arrived, the survival of these defenceless species became precarious.  There is now a major programme to protect remaining indigenous wildlife as far as possible and many predator-free reserves and re-habilitation centres have been established, many of which are on small offshore islands. 

Although my visit was not specifically a 'wildlife' tour, it included many sites of wildlife interest, including the offshore islands of Tiritiri Matangi and Ulva.  A planned visit to Kapiti Island was, however, cancelled as a result of an earthquake, which also affected our route across the South Island.

New Zealand forest
Native Forest, North Island - 19th November 2016
Olympus E-M1 with 12-50 mm lens - 1/320s@f/7.1 ISO

Photographic Equipment.

Following a successful trial of an Olympus OM-D camera in Sabah during 2015, I took two Olympus bodies: an E-M1, as my main camera, with an E-M5 as backup.  Both are ruggedised, to handle the wet conditions expected in New Zealand, which has notably high rainfall throughout the year.  My lenses included 9-18 mm wide angle, 12 - 50 mm general purpose and macro, 40 - 150 mm medium telephoto, and 100 - 400 mm long telephoto, with a 'reach' equivalent to an 800 mm lens on 35 mm film.  I also took a 45 mm f/1.8 prime lens for low-light photography.  I used a monopod to support the telephoto lenses and also took a small flashgun, mainly for plant photography.


As expected, a wide variety of birds was seen during the tour. Many of these were introduced species, including House Sparrows, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and various European Finches.  Some, such as Cirl Buntings, are now more abundant than in Britain!

For native species, it is usually necessary to visit reserves or  the out-islands, although species such as Tui and Bellbird remain common.  The iconic Kiwi is difficult to observe, partly because of its nocturnal habit but also because its range is now severely limited.  My photos were taken at re-habilitation centres and were only possible because of the low-light capability of my camera system.  I combined a series of photos of a Spotted Kiwi feeding into the short animation shown below:

Spotted Kiwi feeding (animation)
Spotted Kiwi feeding at Otorohanga - 17th November 2016
Olympus E-M1 with 45 mm lens - 1/50s@f/1.8 ISO 6400


A selection of my bird photographs, taken during the tour, can be seen by clicking on the following link.

NZ Birds

(For more information on viewing the slides, click on 'Help' at the bottom of each slide page)

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 All text and photographs on this website are Copyright Mike Flemming.