Small Five Tour of New Zealand
New Zealand’s answer to South Africa’s dominance of big game safaris has been to go in the other direction. South Africa has Kruger Park and the unbeatable Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), and now New Zealand has the Small Five – the smallest and most endangered of its indigenous species.
New Zealand’s Small Five list, cooked up by Tourism New Zealand, includes the Kiwi, Hector’s Dolphin, the Yellow-eyed Penguin, Tuatara, and the Kea.
Kiwi – New Zealand’s national icon, and the best place to observe the Kiwi is the beach of Mason Bay on Stewart Island.
Hector’s Dolphin – Only 1.4m in length and the world’s rarest marine dolphin. Can be found in Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula, or Porpoise Bay in Southland’s Catlins district.
Yellow-eyed Penguin – Also known as the Hoiho, and just as comical as any other penguin, only much more rare. Can be found strutting around in Coastal Otago.
Tuatara – Left behind by evolution, the Tuatara is the only beak-headed reptile left in the world. The rest of the lot decided to go extinct 65 million years ago. Around 30,000 of them enjoy the good life on Stephens Island in the Marlborough Sounds. Zealandia, a wildlife park near Wellington is the best place to gawk at the Tuatara.
Kea – A parrot found in the forests of South Island, the Keas are prone to be cheeky and too curious for their good, and will disappear with anything that the naive tourist leaves around unguarded.