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Wild Kiwi Encounter - Stewart Island Experience
Ranked #11 of 16 Tours in Stewart Island
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Cruise at dusk to Little Glory Bay for an opportunity to encounter wild southern brown kiwi in their natural habitat. Depart Halfmoon Bay, Oban at dusk for a cruise across Paterson Inlet. During the cruise, pass Ulva Island (a predator-free sanctuary) and learn about Stewart Island's rich history. The walk, led by a nature guide, is on a track across the peninsula, through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach. The track emerges on a wide sandy beach and as daylight diminishes, this is where Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) are often found feeding among the grasses and seaweed. - Departures: Sep - May - Small group: 8 per guide, max 16 per night.
Reviewed 2 December 2016

The night excursion was a full success. The staff very well prepared, knowledgeable hostile. The outing was relaxed, no rush and we returned well after midnight. The way is partialy mudy, bring good shoes and binoculars not necessarily

Thank HanniR25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Real_Journeys, Guest Relations Manager at Wild Kiwi Encounter - Stewart Island Experience, responded to this reviewResponded 16 February 2017

Hi there, thanks for taking the time to post this review. We are thrilled to see you rated the experience 5 stars! Our staff have great knowledge around all aspects of this tour and pleased you feel the same. We agree that good shoes are essential for this trip as you will be walking through native bush trails and along a beach on this kiwi spotting adventure.
Regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience.

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"split into groups"
in 3 reviews
"muddy conditions"
in 2 reviews
"magical experience"
in 2 reviews
"new zealand"
in 3 reviews
"shoes"
in 3 reviews
"bugs"
in 2 reviews
"kiwi"
in 20 reviews
"presence"
in 2 reviews
"path"
in 3 reviews
"outing"
in 2 reviews
"wildlife"
in 6 reviews
"sea"
in 4 reviews
"forest"
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"highlights"
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32 - 36 of 36 reviews

Reviewed 30 November 2016

Stewart Island Experience (Real Journeys) took over the “kiwi spotting” concession in November 2016 from Phillip Smith and have still to become operationally effective. They also need to consider whether it is realistic and reasonable to run such large group sizes of up to 30 visitors plus guides per night. Whilst we glimpsed two wild kiwi in the 4+ hour period, this was a disappointing and potentially dangerous excursion and RJ/SIE need to spend some serious money on safety.

RJ/SIE operate the ferries (catamaran 1 x 60 seater, 1 x 100 seater) between Bluff and Oban and would seem to see this as an opportunity to make money whilst the Oban boat is in port. We were told to be at the dockside for 8 pm; this was to listen to a talk on kiwi. Quite interesting, though the guide who spoke seemed shocked at the numbers, repeatedly saying ‘what a big group’. On board I asked why the comment had been made and there was an interruption from an SIE employee, stressing that they were within the DoC guidelines. When we finally left harbour we were taken to Bench Island in search of yellow eyed penguin – hard to spot in the gloom as it was now around 9pm. The group of 26 was split into two – one of 11 and the other of 15. The smaller (tour) group left 15 minutes ahead of the second and returned roughly 10 minutes after the second group had returned to the catamaran.

The confirmed booking form suggests that it might be helpful to take a walking pole and when we docked at Little Glory Cove, having collected a small torch (to be shone at our feet so that we could see where we were walking – in theory) we were very glad that we had done so. Even in dry weather, the ascent from the small quay is steep, slippery and along an ‘edge’. There is a non-tensioned (slack)rope to the right (landside), but as this has not been installed evenly it is not easy to use. Thereafter we found ourselves walking partly in thick mud, partly on uneven and broken duckboards through a waterlogged forested area before descending steeply onto Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is also an overnight stop for sea lions, mammals which the NZ Department of Conservation suggest are given a wide berth of at least 10 metres. They are not easy to spot in the dark, even on a star-lit night.

With such a large group (though the SIE web site suggests that it is small) it is important that group members cooperate and share what is available, moving away as soon as they see a kiwi. It is up to the group leader to ensure that this happens. After an hour or so a kiwi was spotted in the forest area, glimpsed by the sweeping torch. Some saw it, most glimpsed it. We then proceeded to descend to the beach, entering it alongside a deepish stream (hard to tell how deep in the dark) and the light sweeping process by the guide continued, the guide not only looking for kiwi but also sea lions. We walked the beach, and climbed back up into the forest area without success. The earlier group had not seen anything either. Back on the return trip along the beach a kiwi was spotted feeding on sand hoppers in the sea weed. It became distressed by the guide’s flashlight (no flash from the cameras) and started to run away. All of a sudden we were told to be absolutely quiet, to group together and leave the beach as quickly as possible. It transpired that we had been very close to a sea lion.

The return trip to the boat was trickier than the departure. The paths were dangerously slippery and there was a steep descent. The rope which we were told to hold onto was almost useless. Finally, back on the quay there was only one boot cleaner (they have asked for another but it has not been delivered – cheese paring?). You can imagine the state of things.

We finally arrived back at Half Moon Bay at 01:45. To sum up, too many people, poorly maintained trackway, insufficient supervision/safety re sea lions and precipices and generally disorganised. Can they be excused as they have just started? I do not think so. They have had months to prepare. This trip needs investment or someone may be hurt.

8  Thank JMarpleInc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2016 via mobile

The worst experience of seeing a kiwi in the wild possible. Several problems with the Wild Kiwi Encounter put on by Stewart Island Experience.

First the cost of this is way more than it should be. I believe it was 140 dollars. Which is resonable if you actually got to see a kiwi in the wild properly.

Tour groups were way to large. 30 people with 1 guide was not at all what I was expecting. The second tour guide was at the back. So you can imagine the view of the kiwi as the 30th person. The group was to see the kiwi and then step back as the line moves up to see the kiwi. This type of movement just resulted in pushing the kiwi down the path in a frightened manner. Thus your view was really not natural and very limited if you got to see them at all.

The tour guides were not very accomodating to the older people with hearing problems. Many elderly people were frustrated and unable to hear the guide talking. Even when there was no reason to talk quietly. The guides were also very eccentric and not entertaining.

If you are a birder that just wants to check another bird off the list, then this is the trip for you. If you are wanting to actually get to see kiwi's in there natual habitat talk to some locals and make some friends that are willing to take you out for the price of a beer.

Don't fall for the trap and give away your money for such a disapointing experience.

5  Thank j_slums
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Real_Journeys, Guest Relations Manager at Wild Kiwi Encounter - Stewart Island Experience, responded to this reviewResponded 16 February 2017

Hi there, thanks for taking the time to provide your valuable feedback. We are sorry to hear that the trip did not live up to your expectations on this occasion. This is a new product for us and we are working hard to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience for our guests. We can assure you that all your comments have been taken on board and we are in the process of implementing changes to the trip format from initial booking process to returning to the dock after the trip has concluded.
Regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience.

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Reviewed 25 November 2016

I have no words to explain the wild kiwi encounter! Very surreal – currently basking in a post kiwi glow (that is a thing).

We hadn’t been on the track for long and a kiwi came up to one of the ladies in our tour group and nibbled at her shoes. We all got to watch and then it scampered off into the bushes. We thought that was it and then it came back for a second nibble!! Followed by it strolling (like a rock star) through the group and back into the bushes. It doesn’t even sound (or seem real) but that happened and I’m slightly jealous that Stewart Island locals see kiwis on such a weekly basis.

The walk through the forest is really incredible. As you cross through to Ocean Beach from Little Glory Cove you can hear the waves crashing which builds the excitement for what you might see along the beach. For us it was ‘only’ in the form of a juvenile kiwi scampering along quickly, but it’s pretty hard to beat our encounter from earlier in the night and it’s hard not to be satisfied already. There are plenty of fresh kiwi foot prints along the beach so it’s easy to see they mustn’t be far away and are in an abundance. The late night is certainly worth it for wild encounters like that.

Definitely a must try when you're in Southland!!

Thank PenelopeHayes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Real_Journeys, Guest Relations Manager at Wild Kiwi Encounter - Stewart Island Experience, responded to this reviewResponded 16 February 2017

Thanks for the review. We are delighted to hear how much you enjoyed your Wild Kiwi Encounter and how you are 'basking in a post kiwi glow'. Seeing a kiwi in the wild is something truly amazing and we are glad that you chose to go on this excursion with us to see one for yourself!
We trust the rest of your holiday was just as rewarding.
Regards, the Stewart Island Experience team.

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Reviewed 1 February 2018 via mobile
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Real_Journeys, Guest Relations Manager at Wild Kiwi Encounter - Stewart Island Experience, responded to this reviewResponded 5 February 2018

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