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Review Highlights
Absolutely awesome kiwi encounter

Our guide found a kiwi on the bush walk at night and then for 45 mins it walked all around us and... read more

Reviewed 18 February 2021
madfisher44
,
Papamoa, New Zealand
Amazing experience, so worth the late night

We absolutely loved our trip. I was apprehensive about the amount of walking but I needn’t have... read more

Reviewed 18 February 2021
NZJ19
,
Invercargill, New Zealand
via mobile
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Reviewed 29 March 2017 via mobile

This trip was a treat. We were very lucky to be able to follow a kiwi along the beach as it fed off sand hoppers and then it drank from a fresh water stream. It was completely oblivious to our presence and because we could spread out in a line on the beach everybody could get a great view. Our encounter lasted at least 30 minutes. Our group was very well behaved and quiet. The guides Maia and Jos were both very informative and enthusiastic.

Date of experience: March 2017
Thank djbrash
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 31 March 2017

Hi Jane, thanks for the review. We're delighted to read how much you enjoyed your kiwi experience. We will make sure your kind words are passed onto the team here. Hopefully the rest of your holiday was just as fun.
Regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience.

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Reviewed 21 March 2017

We were very disappointed by this "encounter experience". We were split into two groups. Our guide was very bossy and we were given strict instructions not to point our torches around and to make no noise, whereas she conversed loudly with her colleague in charge of the other group using her walkie talkie. We walked through the bush in wet, muddy conditions and she did not seem in the least concerned as to whether we were managing to keep up. She hardly even turned round when one man fell quite heavily. We "saw" one kiwi, from a distance of perhaps 6 metres, half hidden by a log. The guide obviously knew where to find it and even had a name for it! Not too wild... We were hurried on when everyone had caught a glimpse of it. On our way back to the boat those at the front of the group were lucky enough to "see" another kiwi behind a tree trunk - or was it the same one? I don't think we were told its name. I was fortunate enough to see its foot which was definitely a kiwi foot but people at the back of our group did not see anything at all. Our guide seemed to be mostly in a hurry to reach the boat as the other group were already back and waiting to go home. The best part of the outing was the preliminary talk in which we learnt about kiwi. The rest was not worth it. You would have as much chance of seeing a kiwi, given a little patience, at the rugby pitch above Oban and it would not cost you anything.

Date of experience: February 2017
3  Thank JofromFrance1
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 23 March 2017

Kia Ora, thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback, we are disappointed to read that it did not live up to your expectations. We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and can assure you we will be following up with the guide in question to ensure that we are keeping to these high standards. Our specialist guides do their utmost to find the kiwi, however on occasions the kiwi wish to forage within the bush which unfortunately creates disappointment for our valued guests. We are pleased to see you enjoyed the presentation at the start of the trip.
Regards, the Stewart Island Experience team.

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Reviewed 16 March 2017

We saw one kiwi on our trip - a round shape about 20 metres away, amongst the seaweed, very difficult to make out with the torchlight aimed a little away from it, but we all agreed we did see it. I think I caught a brief glimpse of the beak through my binoculars, before the shape disappeared altogether into the undergrowth.

This was after walking for an hour through the bush, and then along the beach in near total darkness (cloudy and drizzling, so no moon or starlight). Along the way the guide threatened torch confiscation after some at the rear of the group apparently shone their torches a bit too far sideways.

Wildlife is not choreographed, so we just thought, bad luck, could have put our money to better use as it turned out. And could have had a good sleep instead.

How could things be improved?

First start out much earlier. We arrived at the wharf at 8.30pm as per ticket, waited 20 minutes till a briefing was given, travelled in total darkness, then waited at the jetty 15 minutes till the other group of 12 got a head start, tramped for 2 hours, and travelled back again in total darkness.

Second, have smaller groups. There were 25 paying customers on the boat, so 2 groups of a dozen. Hard to keep close together, and impossible for anyone other than the first few to see or hear anything.
And with smaller groups, the guides wouldn't have to get grumpy.

The best part was the excellent presentation from the guide at the start, informative and engaging.

Date of experience: February 2017
1  Thank VerilyA
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 23 March 2017

We are sorry to hear you found your Kiwi Encounter Experience to be a disappointment with only sighting a glimpse of the Kiwi on the beach before disappearing into the bush. Kiwi are nocturnal like many other New Zealand native animals and are most active in the dark which creates additional efforts to sight. We need to manage external factors such as noise or torchlight that could scare the kiwi away and result in no persons in the group seeing one. We are pleased to hear how much you enjoyed the presentation delivered by our specialist guides.
Kind regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience.

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Reviewed 4 March 2017

We were with a tour of experienced bird enthusiasts who had collectively booked this tour. On the plus side the pre-trip briefing was informative and well presented.

Once at the island our guide provided a further briefing as to what to expect and how we should proceed. We were given torches and were led on a procession across the island. We had been asked to be quiet and to keep our torches beamed at the ground in front.

However, a couple of our party had apparently been remiss in straying torchlight to widely. Whereupon we were summoned to gather directly in front of the guide, who promptly proceeded to berate our group collectively and to threaten confiscation of torches were anyone to again depart from instructions!

We all made to feel like a bunch of naughty schoolkids and the mood of the group was totally soured. The behaviour of our guide on this matter was way over the top and most inappropriate. A few of our party were over 70 years age and should not have been treated with such utter disrespect!

We did manage once on the beach, to get a glimpse of the backend of one kiwi. Our guide shone her torch adjacently to the bird and then invited (no flash allowed) photographs to be taken. Problem was that our guide obviously had no idea as to what was required in taking a night shot without flash. I was using a professional class camera ith a long lens and had absolutely no chance of obtaining successful focus.

Afterwards, I pointed this out to our guide who informed me that good pics had previously been taken by other parties. Perhaps so, but not under the lighting conditions provided by this guide.

Overall, our group's collective impression of this tour was as being extremely disappointed.

None of us would recommend this tour to anyone.

Date of experience: February 2017
2  Thank John B
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 6 March 2017

Kia Ora John B, thanks for taking the time to post this feedback. We are very disappointed to read your comments here as our manager spoke at length to your tour leader at the time and understood this matter to be resolved. As kiwis are shy, nocturnal creatures and flash photography is not allowed, then any photography will be difficult. Our guides do try to facilitate requests for photos as best they can without causing disruption to the kiwi in their native habitat. As mentioned above, we followed up with your tour leader the following day and were informed that all other members of the group were happy with their kiwi encounter. We are sorry that you feel this way, however we have done everything possible to address your concerns in the correct manner.
Regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience.

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Reviewed 11 February 2017

Prepare to spend 4 or more hours outside, perhaps rather cold and damp. Our wonderful guides found several kiwis for us to watch as they fed near the beach. It was a thrill to see them, particularly since one was within a few feet of our group. The kiwis were pretty much oblivious to us, as long as we kept very still and quiet, very intent on getting their night's worth of bugs. We were surprised at how large and fluffy they are.

Date of experience: February 2017
1  Thank Judymac44
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 15 February 2017

Kia Ora Judy P,
Thanks for taking the time to post this review. We are thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed this trip and how all your group managed to enjoy your up close and personal encounter with kiwis in the wild. We hope the rest of your trip was just as exciting.
Regards, the team at Stewart Island Experience

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