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“For bird lovers”
Review of Okarito Kiwi Tours

Okarito Kiwi Tours
Ranked #1 of 6 things to do in Okarito
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Muliple Award Winners Okarito Kiwi Tours takes you deep into kiwi habitat looking for one of the rarest birds in the world.We are the only licenced operators on the South Island of New Zealand.We give you an impressive 98% chance of seeing a kiwi in the wild.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
147 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
“For bird lovers”
Reviewed 29 March 2014

If you are willing to spend three hours, two of which will be spent standing quietly in a dark forest covered from head to toe (with a mosquito hat over your head), to see the rare Rowi (Okarito Kiwi), then this is the tour for you. We only heard and then saw one kiwi. It came within two metres of me, maybe closer to others in the group (there were 10 of us). It quickly scrambled across the path and then disappeared into the bush again. Our sighting was brief. We also heard morepork but did not see any. We were content to have seen the one kiwi, but we would have been happier to see two, of course. You must follow Ian's commands: stand in a certain formation and face a certain direction, come when called, not wear noisy clothes such as waterproof jackets and pants, etc. He's not a relaxed or warm person, and can come off as abrasive. But he is passionate about the rowi, and you do leave feeling like you've been on a bit of an forest adventure. You'll also leave feeling that rowi, while still struggling to survive, are being looked after by dedicated folks like Ian. Please note, no photos allowed.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank PassarinhoAzul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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91 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Reading, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Okarito Kiwi Tours”
Reviewed 18 March 2014

This trip was brilliant on many levels. Ian is obviously knowledgeable regarding Kiwis. He is also very talented at getting the best from a group of people. Spending the evening in a fabulous part of the world with Ian leading us on the quest to view a rare breed of Kiwi was truly enjoyable. Spending some time at the end of the tour gazing at the brilliant star lit sky was fantastic. Actually observing a Kiwi going about its business in the wild was 'the icing on the cake' and an experience money alone cannot buy. A real high point of our holiday.

Visited February 2014
2 Thank Paul1812
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Emerald Beach, Australia
Level Contributor
44 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2014

The reason you take this tour is that Ian knows his stuff, knows his kiwis, and has by long experience worked out a way for everyone in the group to be able to see the bird(s). Because he knows what he's doing, you need to follow his instructions exactly, but his enthusiasm and guidelines will make it easy to know what you're supposed to do. It's best to wear soft clothing (nothing that swishes or makes noise when you walk or take your hands in and out of your pockets), because noises lessen the likelihood of seeing the birds. This was our first wild kiwi sighting in New Zealand, and although we have now seen other species in the wild in other parts of the country, this one will remain very special in our memory. I actually enjoyed not having the possibility of taking video or photos--it freed us to just look and pay attention. Highly recommended!

Visited February 2014
1 Thank BrahminyKite48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Traverse City, Michigan
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“We couldn't have asked for a better kiwi experience.”
Reviewed 3 March 2014

Others have outlined the important aspects of the experience: bring the right attitude, trust Ian's guidance, and be patient and quiet.

We were very spoiled - shoulder season so we had Ian and the kiwis to ourselves that night, and perfect weather (no rain!). And we had incredible sightings, without feeling like we were impacting the kiwis negatively. One of the most memorable evenings of our lives. Thank you Ian, for creating an experience that we'll never forget.

We also enjoyed spending a few nights in Okarito: we saw kiwis, we photographed the starry sky, and we kayaked in the lagoon with kayaks from Okarito Nature Tours (and great coffee - thank you Richard!). We took a day trip to Franz Josef and points south and came back to park our campervan in the lovely community campground. Okarito is a very special place.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank Susie0575
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
547 reviews
183 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 174 helpful votes
“Excellent - you will have a sighting that few NZers experience”
Reviewed 27 January 2014

You must reserve in advance! A small group and only one tour per night.

After a briefing at Ian's, it was a short drive to the sanctuary. For the next 3 hours we tracked a pair of kiwis for 3 or so kilometers via their radio transmitters - we saw the couple (one on each side of the group) after hearing them call for many moments. A short sighting but well worth it.

Our tour lasted from 8 - 11 PM and we were in the rain most of the time. You are in the dark and many times the group must stand still for many minutes. Ian has run more than 1000 of these trips and claims 95% success on seeing a kiwi. He did say this was one of his few sightings in the rain and a shorter trip (groups are typically out for 4 to 6 hours). So dress appropriately and maybe have a snack with you.

Well worth it!!!

Note that no photography is permitted so leave your cameras in your car or lodging.

Visited January 2014
Thank JoeHouston52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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