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Matt Jones

My interest in natural history, particularly birds, began as a child in Kent in the south-east of England and I was a proud member of the Young Ornithologist Club (YOC).


Much of my early birding took me to Elmley and Oare Marshes, Grove Ferry and Dungeness, one of my favourite sea watching sites.

The desire to find rare and new species to me took me further afield to Norfolk, the Scottish Highlands and Isles of Scilly.  I've travelled and photographed wildlife in diverse locations from Poland, Sri Lanka, India, Australia and Spain to name a few. 


Home for me now is Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island, located south of New Zealand's South Island.  My work as a birdwatching and nature guide allows me to show other birders New Zealand's rare endemics.  I guide on Ulva Island, the world-renowned open bird sanctuary, as well as pelagics around Stewart Island and kiwi spotting in the evenings.  I also lead tours nationally across New Zealand as well as internationally.

follow meread guiding reviews  - get in touch


Currently Canon 80D.

Previously used Canon 30D with 100-400mm, 70-200mm & 18-50mm lenses and in the early years I had a Nikon Coolpix 450 (digi-scoping) with Swarovski 80HD.


conservation work

In my spare time I have volunteered with the Department of Conservation (Kakapo Recovery Programme on Codfish Island 2009, helping to tag Great White Sharks off Stewart Island 2010, and gathered data for the Southern New Zealand Dotterel project in 2013). 


In 2011 I became Chairman of the Ulva Island Charitable Trust, a group that (in conjunction with DOC) works towards keeping Ulva Island open to the public, remaining free of introduced pests and predators, and aspiring to be one of New Zealand’s premier bird watching locations.

Since 2018 I've been assisting the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust with a field monitoring program on Stewart Island.


In 2020 I celebrated my 10th year of carrying out annual forest bird call counts for the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community & Environment Trust (SIRCET).  Other projects for this organisation have included Blue Penguin surveys, Kiwi/Morepork/Weka bird call counts and banding Sooty Shearwaters.

published work

I see myself as a birdwatcher first and photographer second but I've been fortunate to have photographs published in books, magazines and websites both nationally and internationally.  Here are some of them:

Birds of New Zealand: A photographic guide

by Paul Scofield & Brent Stephenson

Oceanic Birds of the World - a photo guide

by Steve N.G. Howell & Kirk Zufelt

A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka and

A Photographic field guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne

New Zealand Herald newspaper's travel section about hidden treasures at Rakiura Stewart Island

more birding websites to drool over

Ulva's Guided Walks

Explore Ulva Island, New Zealand's premier bird sanctuary, with Ulva Goodwillie and her team of knowledgeable and friendly nature guides.

Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ   
Started out as a couple of birding mates setting up an independent bird guiding business.  Sav and Brent are passionate about birding and really know their New Zealand birds and birding sites inside out.  Read Brent's blog about his birding travels and outstanding photographs.

Aurora Charters

Fantastic locally-owned Stewart Island pelagic company, also great for hunting parties and scenic charters.  Go onto the big seas in comfort and get to see Stewart Island's special seabirds.

Ulva Island Charitable Trust 
The Ulva Island Charitable Trust was set up by a group of dedicated Stewart Islanders with the objective of raising funds and, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, strives to keep Ulva Island free of introduced pests and predators where native plants and birds can thrive.

Detector Gadget's Blog
Gadget Tails - stories of a Rodent Detector Dog here on Stewart Island or

follow Paws4Conservation on Facebook.

SIRCET (Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Environment Trust)

A non-profit organisation started by a group of Stewart Islanders enthusiastic about protecting and enhancing the local environment and community.

Albatross Encounter
Albatross Encounter brings you up close to a diverse array of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns and gulls. These species all occur naturally within a close proximity of the Kaikoura Peninsula. 

Peter Moore's Blog
Pete is now based in Wareham, Dorset, but when we were both living in Kent he was my best birding mate.  Lots of avian adventures were shared, travelling through the night to see and find new, rare birds for us, as well as the local Kent hotspots.  Read Pete's witticisms and observations on his highly addictive blog!

The Biggest Twitch 
In 2008 Alan Davies and Ruth Miller from North Wales broke the world record for seeing the most species of bird in one calendar year.  They wrote a book and blog about their amazing trip, they now run bird watching tours around the UK and all over the world.

Heritage Expeditions

Small ship expedition cruises to some of the most biologically rich regions on the planet including Antarctica, Russia's Far East, South Pacific, and Australia and New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands.

Wings Birding Tours Worldwide

Began in 1973 offering tours to the northeastern United States and Canada, later including tours to Alaska, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Chatham Island Taiko Trust

Chatham Island landowners and a New Zealand based ornithologist coming together to protect the island's distinctive wildlife.

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