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Tucked away in the southern rim of thePacific, New Zealand is a land with anenchanting and refreshing nature.Whilst a morning may be greeted high inmajestic mountain valleys by hearing thediscreet scuttle of a skink beneath alpineshrubs, the afternoon may be spent on thesea, watching gliding albatrosses andporpoising fur seals.New Zealand has a very rich and intriguingnatural heritage which, when explored inthe context of the beauty of the forests,mountains, coasts and wildlife, cannot helpbut captivate. The native birds, otherwildlife and plants are diverse and unique,having evolved without the influence ofland mammals since the island's isolationfrom Gondwana. Many, though, havebecome extinct or threatened since thearrival of humans and their accompanyingmenagerie of animal and plant pests.However, these threats have strengthenedthe nation's present-day commitment toconservation, deepening both the locals'and visitors' appreciation of this relativelyclean, spacious country and its veryspecial wildlife.Our natural history journey begins inAuckland, an area characterised by water, volcanoes and islands. On the west coastwe will watch Australasian Gannets soaringin towards their scattered rock outcropcolonies. Within a few hours' drive we willbe on the east coast, observingcongregations of migratory and endemicbirds feeding on the silt flats of Miranda.We will have an overnight stay onpicturesque Tiritiri Matangi Island, to enjoythe fullness of birdsong in regeneratingforest, including that of such reintroducedrarities as the Saddleback, Stitchbird,Whitehead, Little-spotted Kiwi and Takahe.The central plateau of the North Island willshare geothermal secrets with us as wewalk through a valley of boiling mud andwater at Waimangu, and in a podocarprainforest at Pureora. In the mist at thebreak of dawn we may be lucky to hear thehaunting call of the endangered Kokako,and encounter a diversity of other birds,insects and plant species. Not far away isTongariro, New Zealand's first national parkand a place of great spiritual significanceto the indigenous Maori people. The parkoffers us a wonderful perspective of thesevolcanic landscapes, and the conservationissues that affect the area, as we walkamongst a subalpine flora and enjoy thespectacular mountain backdrop.On the way to the South Island, we mayencounter species of albatross, shearwaterand petrel, as well as dolphins, in CookStrait. Then we will explore the waters of theMarlborough Sounds aboard a privatecharter vessel, before travelling further downthe coast to Kaikoura, where snow-cappedmountains reach to the sea. Here we willventure offshore once again, in search ofSperm Whales, Hector's and DuskyDolphins, and a fine selection of seabirds. Our journey now takes us over the maindivide via Arthur's Pass, a route once usedby the Maori people. We will then traveldown the wild and wet west coast, beneathavenues of lush green rainforest, searchingfor the rare Westland Black Petrel, theGreat White Egret and Fiordland CrestedPenguin in their natural habitats. Thecontrast of the west to the vast rollingOtago landscape of schist rock, tussockland and clear turquoise lakes, is striking.Next we will head for the heights andgrandeur of Mount Cook National Park,and walk amongst alpine vegetation alivewith clicking crickets as we search for therare Black Stilt. Two nights on the almostpristine Stewart Island will allow us time towatch the Brown Kiwi in its naturalenvironment, as well as the Kaka, Weka,Bellbird and parakeets. At sea fly a numberof seabirds, including Shy Albatrosses andFairy Prions, and in Paterson Inlet we maysee shags, rare Yellow-eyed Penguins anddolphins. Back on the mainland, we willthen be enticed by the glacially sculpturedmountains and valleys of FiordlandNational Park. The drive through to MilfordSound offers spectacular scenery as wellas opportunities to seek out some uniqueendemic bird species, including theYellowhead, Kea and Rock Wren; anoptional boat cruise along the fiord,beneath its steep cliffs and waterfalls, isawe-inspiring. Finally we arrive in Dunedin, the 'wildlifecapital', where we will cruise aroundTaiaroa Head, the only mainland breedingsite of the Northern Royal Albatross. With awingspan of three metres, these seabirdsare certainly impressive as they soar overcliffs dotted with nests of Spotted Shagsand the rare Stewart Island Shags.Cruising on, past rocky shelves of loungingNew Zealand Fur Seals, we will sail backdown the harbour, towards the city. Amagical way indeed to draw to a close ourrich and diverse discovery of NewZealand's wildlife treasures.New Zealand's Natural HistoryA 22-day experience of the unique and characterful birds, wildlife and scenery of New Zealand,from marshland to rainforest and from snow-capped mountains to the sea.Saturday 9th February - Saturday 2nd March Cost: £5,995Saturday 26th October - Saturday 16th November Cost: £5,995Outline itineraryDay 1/2Depart London/in flight.Day 3Auckland.Day 4Miranda WildlifeSanctuary.Day 5Tiritiri Matangi Island.Day 6Rotorua and Taupo.Day 7Pureora Forest Park.Day 8Tongariro National Park.Day 9Cook Strait and Picton.Day 10Marlborough Sounds.Day 11Kaikoura.Day 12Arthur's Pass andHokitika.Day 13Westland National Park.Day 14Lake Moeraki andMackenzie Basin.Day 15Mount Cook NationalPark and Lake Ohau.Day 16/17Stewart Island.Day 18/19Fiordland National Parkand World Heritage area.Day 20Dunedin.Day 21Depart Dunedin.Day 22Arrive London.AccommodationA range of quality hotels, motels andlodges, generally with privatefacilities, except on Tiritiri MatangiIsland where accommodation isbasic, with shared facilities.Food All included in the price.Grading Frequent day walks. Fairly easy andoptional. Grade A/B.Focus New Zealand's natural heritage andwildlife, especially birds.Leader Mark Hanger, plus local guide.Single room supplement£895.ExtensionsGladly arranged on request.Web quick search: NZL02 264Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryBAY OFISLANDSCAPE REINGATIRITIRIMATANGIISLANDFIRTH OFTHAMESAUCKLANDPUREORAFOREST PARKROTORUALAKETAUPOTONGARIRONATIONALPARKWELLINGTONKAIKOURAPICTONHOKITIKACHRISTCHURCHMOUNT COOKNATIONAL PARKDUNEDINSTEWART ISLANDFIORDLANDNATIONALPARKMILFORDSOUNDWESTLANDNATIONALPARKSOUTH ISLANDNORTH ISLANDSperm Whale, KaikouraYellow-eyed PenguinFiordland National Park

New Guinea is one of the wildest,most unexplored regions on Earth,with some 90% of the country stillcovered in forest. It has the richestavifauna of any island with nearly 400endemic species, including many of thebirds-of-paradise, perhaps the mostextraordinary family of all the world's birds.Although their incredible displays are oftenshown on television, to watch them in thefield is a priceless experience of a lifetime.In addition, the island holds a wonderfulassembly of pigeons, doves, parrots andkingfishers, not to mention gorgeousjewel-babblers, fairy-wrens and stunningspecies such as Flame Bowerbird andGarnet Robin. Raptors are not numerous,but we have the chance of observing oneof the most magnificent, the New GuineaHarpy Eagle. This tour focuses on three of the mostrewarding locations in Papua New Guinea(PNG), the eastern half of this huge island,where we will encounter a wide range ofexotic vegetation, magnificent trees andcolourful butterflies and insects. From themodern city of Port Moresby we travel ashort distance to Varirata National Park,then fly west to Kiunga on the mighty FlyRiver bordering Irian Jaya, the western halfof New Guinea. We will explore this regionby boat and drive into the foothills of theStar Mountains at Tabubil. Finally, we visitthe central highlands at Tari Gap, one ofthe best birding localities on the planet.We begin our holiday in Port Moresby andproceed to the eucalypt and evergreenforests of Varirata National Park in thenearby hills. This park provides anexcellent introduction to birding in NewGuinea, with good trails and open forestallowing us to see such specialities asBrown-headed Kingfisher and RaggianaBird-of-paradise, along with a plethora offruit-doves and honeyeaters. Next we flywest to the small frontier town of Kiunga,situated in a remote wilderness wherespecies such as the huge SouthernCrowned-pigeon, extirpated elsewhere byhunting, can still be seen in the vastexpanse of lowland tropical rainforest. Wehave three full days to explore by boat theFly and Elevara Rivers, searching forspecialities such as King Bird-of-paradise,Little Paradise and Hook-billed Kingfishers, Blue Jewel-babbler, VulturineParrot, Flame Bowerbird and Greater Bird-of-paradise. After three nights in Kiunga, we next driveto Tabubil, lying in the Ok Tedi Valleyamongst the Star Mountain foothills. Thisis the home of mid-altitude species suchas Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Carola'sParotia (yet another B.o.P!), the localisedGolden-backed Whistler and the rare Greater Melampitta.After a short flight to Tari, we reach the grand finale of the tour, our two full days at the incomparable Ambua Lodge. Here we canfeast our eyes on Astrapias, Sicklebills,King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise and othermembers of this wonderful family, as wellas a host of other interesting species suchas Mountain Firetail, Orange-crownedFairy-wren, Blue-capped Ifrata, WattledPloughbill, and possibly even the elusiveNew Guinea Harpy Eagle. The lodge ispositioned at Tari Gap in the centralhighlands, the home of the Huli tribe or'wigmen' who paint their faces and wearexotic wigs made from their own hair,decorated with plumes from, yes, birds-of-paradise! All too soon we must fly back to PortMoresby, where any spare time can bespent sightseeing and shopping or visiting Pacific Adventists' College wherethe grounds hold a good variety ofwaterbirds and open country species suchas Fawn-breasted Bowerbird. We thentransfer to the airport for our return flightto London, via Singapore, after whatpromises to be an exciting andmemorable adventure.Papua New GuineaA 17-day birdwatching holiday to the magnificent forests of New Guinea insearch of the remarkable birds-of-paradise and other exotic species, togetherwith a glimpse of the unique culture of the indigenous Huli 'wigmen'.Sunday 25th August - Tuesday 10th September Cost: £7,995Sunday 8th September - Tuesday 24th September Cost: £7,995Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationPAPUANEW GUINEAVANIMOWEWAKADELBERTMOUNTAINSSTARMOUNTAINSMADANGTARIDARUPORTMORESBYMOUNTALBERTEDWARDFLY RIVERTABUBILKIUNGASEPIK RIVEROutline itineraryDay 1/2Depart London/in flight.Day 3Arrive Port Moresby.Transfer to VarirataNational Park.Day 4/5Varirata National Park. Day 6Kiunga Forest.Day 7/9Fly and Elevara Rivers.Day 10/12Tabubil Forest.Day 13/15Tari Gap, Star Mountains.Day 16Depart Port Moresby.Day 17Arrive London.AccommodationGenerally comfortable lodges andhotels, all with private facilities butEkame Lodge at Kiunga is verybasic.FoodAll included in the price. GradingA/B. The walking on this tour ismoderate rather than strenuous, buttravelling in PNG can bedemanding.FocusBirds and elements of local culture.LeaderTony Clarke, plus local guides.Single room supplement£800.Web quick search: PNG01 265Huli wigmenRaggiana Bird-of-paradiseAmbua Lodge