New Zealand is turning the concept of a wildlife ‘Big Five’ upside down by developing its own unique ‘Small Five’ list to encourage travellers to come and see some of the world’s rarest creatures for themselves.
The phrase the ‘Big Five’ was coined by big-game hunters in Africa referring to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.
In contrast, New Zealand’s ‘Small Five’ focuses on promoting awareness and conservation of five of its small, rare indigenous creatures – the nation’s iconic Kiwi, Hector’s dophin, yellow-eyed penguin, tuatara and kea.
“New Zealand’s has many indigenous and rare species and a holiday here offers unique experiences to enjoy seeing them, from a night walk to kiwi-spot on a deserted beach, to swimming with the world’s smallest dolphin,” said Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton.
“We are working closely with the Department of Conversation to raise our profile as a wildlife destination and while our ‘Small Five’ might not be as big as Africa’s, their uniqueness can’t be matched,” Mr Hickton added.
The Department of Conservation and the operators working with these animals have active conservation programmes, which help to protect and preserve these rare birds and animals.
The biodiversity of New Zealand is one of the most unusual on Earth. Its plants and animals, which developed during 80 million years of isolation, are so distinctive that scientists have described New Zealand as the closest you can get to studying life on another planet.
Today, more than 30% of New Zealand’s land has been set aside in national parks, reserves and special heritage sites to preserve the country’s ecological heritage.
Tourism New Zealand has launched a dedicated feature on www.newzealand.com/wildlife to give visitors detailed information on where to see the Small Five and other unique wildlife experience in New Zealand.
“There are lots of opportunities for visitors to experience these five unique New Zealand species in their natural environment,” said Department of Conservation spokeswoman Nicola Vallance.
“But why stop at five? New Zealand is internationally recognised as a “conservation hotspot” and there are hundreds of special animals and plants that you will only ever experience by coming here to see for yourself,” Vallance added.