Are you a birder, twitcher, bird photographer, or simply someone who is just interested in seeing some of the resident birds around Kaikoura?
Kaikoura isn’t just about what’s in the water; there’s plenty to see on land as well!
Kaikoura is well known for its seabird and water bird species. We will cover them on this page. But we’ll also reveal other birds you can see around further away from the water. The lesser known Kaikoura residents who are no less interesting or beautiful than the town’s more famous inhabitants.
Bird Species of Kaikoura
eBird, the world’s most popular and widely used bird reporting website, keeps a list of the 100 birding hotspots in New Zealand. Currently, Kaikoura has three different hotspots in the top 20 New Zealand birding locations – not bad at all! And that’s not considering other locations nearby Kaikoura and the surrounding region.
As of February 2019, the following eBird statistics are relevant for Kaikoura:
|Location||# Species Recorded|
|Kaikoura Albatross Encounter pelagic||104|
|Kaikoura Point Kean Seal Colony||87|
|South Bay, Kaikoura||67|
|Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway||64|
As you can see, even a walk along the peninsula walkway at Kaikoura can yield some excellent birding. Although many of the 64 may be uncommon, you’re still likely to see a good number of birds around if you pay attention to your surroundings.
Here’s a list of birds see over the years at or near the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway:
South Island Oystercatcher
Little Pied Cormorant
New Zealand Bellbird
New Zealand Fantail
New Zealand Falcon
New Zealand Pigeon
If you want to see marine birds in New Zealand, Kaikoura is the place to do it. From majestic Great Albatross who spend their entire lives on the sea, to the smaller Shearwaters, Kaikoura is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
How to see Seabirds in Kaikoura
If you are going on a whale watching tour, you are likely to come across many birds along the way.
If however you want to embark on a more bird-specific tour then there are a number of options for heading out on to the water on a pelagic trip with highly knowledgable local bird guides who know exactly where and how to find birds, and can assist in identification. Albatross Encounter is one such company, with specialist pelagic bird watching tours available for $150 (adult price).
More than any other location on mainland NZ, Kaikoura is a hotspot for seabirds.
Albatross (13 species)
Petrels (14 species)
Shearwaters (7 species)
Plus many other types of seabirds and waterbirds including gulls, shags, terns and a special little penguin.
For the same reason that whales are attracted to the waters off Kaikoura, birds of the ocean also gather close inshore to Kaikoura to access the nutrient rich shallow waters near the coast before the land drops away into the Kaikoura canyon (check this fact**), where the rich food chain supports creatures great and small. Birds, of course, play an important role.