197 Rankers Reviews
32 Bird Watching
Okarito Kiwi Tours gives you a realistic chance of seeing a kiwi in it's natural habitat and environment.
Our success rate in seeing the rarest kiwi in New Zealand is a staggering 98%.
This is only possible with professional guides and responsible attitudes.
Utmost care is taken in ensuring minimal disturbance while eavesdropping on the lives of such iconic and mysterious birds.
99% of New Zealanders have never seen a kiwi in the wild !
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Okarito
Showing 8 reviews of 197.
I recently went kiwi spotting with Okarito Kiwi Tours, it was 4.5 hours in the forest, standing very still and silent for most of the time, plus intermittently walking a total of 4 klms on an uneven wet/boggy and stony trail to find a bird. For most of this time we had no light, therefore we were attempting to place our feet safely in total darkness without an appropriate torch. Whilst Okarito Kiwi Tours do provide a torch for each customer, they are white light and not allowed to be used for most of the night so as not to scare the birds. The guide explained that kiwi do not see red light, and the guide had the only red torch.
In my experience of the tour I did on a very black night, it is totally unacceptable and dangerous to expect people to safely navigate an unfamiliar forest trail in darkness. I hope that this tour operator considers providing each customer with a red torch to help prevent a fall, sprained ankle or worse.
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The Kiwi tour was an unexpected highlight of our NZ trip. Be aware that this tour doesn't cater to the tourist masses but requires patience and stamina as you have to stay absolutely still and alert for several hours at night. However, seeing a Kiwi in its natural habitat was an incredibly powerful experience and well worth the wait. Mike was a great guide, friendly and knowledgeable and clearly loves what he's doing.
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This operator purports to have a more than 90% success rate "seeing" the elusive nocturnal kiwi bird, and I had high hopes of being among the lucky few. I was initially taken aback by the guide (we had Mike, not the owner Ian) since he was a little smarmy and patronizing and spoke contemptuously of a group he had guided a few days earlier who were not sufficiently quiet or patient and therefore "didn't deserve to see a kiwi bird". That certainly put us in our place! Our group was very obedient, quiet, responsive, incredibly patient, and yet..... Yes, technically, we actually "saw" a kiwi bird, so I'm guessing our experience contributed to Okarito Kiwi Tours' high success rate, BUT… our sighting consisted of a fleeting glimpse of an unidentifiable hopping creature caught momentarily in a red spotlight. Just as my brain registered that this was perhaps a rabbit, the creature vanished into the bush. Our guide (Mike) asked each of us in turn (7 paying customers in all) "Did you see the kiwi?" "Did you see the kiwi?" Did you see the kiwi?, Etc. In good conscience we each answered "yes". After all we had seen "something", and we had no reason to doubt that the something had been a kiwi since our guide was carrying an antenna tuned to a transmitter fastened to the kiwi. Apparently, these admissions were sufficient to satisfy Mike's professional conscience, as he called the evening a wrap. In fairness, we had "seen" a kiwi, but I would be misrepresenting the facts if I told anyone else I had "seen" a kiwi. This tour was a disappointing use of $150, the most disappointing that my husband and I spent on our otherwise fabulous 24 day trip through New Zealand's South Island. However, our stop in Okarito was more than compensated for the next morning, when we went for a 2-hour kayak excursion on Okarito Lagoon with Okarito Kayaks. Okarito Kiwi Tours is lucky there is another operator in town able to salvage Okarito's reputation.
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What a fantastic experience! We were part of a group of 9, which I thought would be too large to have a chance to see a kiwi. After being issued with torches, dayglo safety vests and head-nets, our instructions were given -- quiet, no movement, stay in a line, no sound or gesturing. Mike was adamant that we followed instructions, and we practiced several times. Once he was convinced we were prepared, off we went. We walked on the road that led to Okarito while Mike used the antenna to pick up signals. Several times, he thought one of the males was close, only to have a car pass by and the kiwi stopped. After nearly 2 hours, a male called loudly, maybe 5 meters in front of us. We stood silently and without moving, in the dark. Then Mike pointed his red-filtered light onto the edge of the road, indicating where the kiwi would emerge. The bird emerged and ran across the road, near the one end of the line of us, giving us a look of less than 10 seconds. 'Run' is used loosely -- it looked more like it was off balance or needed a hip replacement. We only heard and saw the one male, but it was a wonderful experience. Mike clearly knew his stuff and his insistence that we comply with appropriate behavior paid off. Other than South Island Robin, no other birds were seen or heard. As long as anyone participating understands and is prepared to follow the 'rules', I would highly recommend this activity to see one of the world's very rare bird species!
This was a great experience in a small group of 8. After being issued with torches, head-nets and extra clothes for those who needed them, we were thoroughly briefed and firmly marshalled by Mike; Ian was having a rare night off Despite twice being thwarted by unfortunately timed passing vehicles which caused the kiwis to stop their progress, Mike got us all in position to see 2 kiwis. The first one was a bit over 10 metres away, but the other was considerably closer. Despite the attentions of the advertised mosquitoes, this was a most enjoyable evening and an experience I would highly recommend
Very informative, very interesting and fun evening. Tobi was a very passionate guide. After four patient hours we finally got to see our Kiwi - which was amazing!
We had an amazing and very interesting evening with Ian who is so passionate about the Kiwi, he knows them very well, and we were so lucky to see the Kiwi very well!! Thanks for this exciting kiwi adventure.
Melanie and Pascal
I was very impressed by Ian who did really his best to show all of us a Kiwi. With success! Very professional, he used radio waves to detect them.