My Dunedin Itinerary

Wildlife on the Otago Peninsula

Dunedin City’s Otago Peninsula has been described by internationally acclaimed environmentalist David Bellamy as the “finest example of eco-tourism in the world”.

Otago Peninsula stretches along the southern edge of the Otago harbour. Taiaroa Head is at the end of the peninsula, only 32 kms from the city centre and within sight of the cityscape, is home to the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world. The observatory at the Royal Albatross Centre provides the opportunity to view parents returning from sea to feed their chicks.

Otago Peninsula is also home to one of the world’s rarest penguin’s the Yellow Eyed penguin or Hoiho, its Maori name which means noise shouter. The Yellow Eyed penguin gets its name from its distinct yellow head band and yellow iris. The Yellow Eyed penguin is only found on the Eastern and Southern coasts of New Zealand’s South Island. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve, “Penguin Place”, has a unique set of tunnels, hides and tracks set up to view these fascinating creatures as they go about their everyday life. Or head out for a sunrise penguin walk with Nature Guides Otago.  You can even view the penguins on a 4X4 off-road adventure with Sams Peninsula Off Road Tours.

Natures Wonders, situated above the Royal Albatross Centre at the head of Otago Peninsula, adds a little adventure to your wildlife experience. Take a personalised tour on an 8 wheel drive Argo where you will see some amazing wildlife including Yellow Eyed penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals. View stunning coastal scenery as you look out over the Pacific Ocean or back up the harbour basin to the City of Dunedin. If you do not have your own transport, take a tour with a peninsula guide such as Awesome Tours NZ.

Monarch Wildlife Cruises takes you on a journey by sea around Taiaroa Head where you will get to see the Royal Albatross, New Zealand Fur seals and many other nesting bird species who call Taiaroa Head home. The MV Monarch is a classic boat which takes you to see what can’t be seen from land.

Elm Wildlife Tours takes you on a half day excursion of Otago Peninsula. The tour gives you a unique insight into the habitats and behaviours of internationally significant wildlife, particularly Royal Albatross, Yellow-eyed and Blue Penguins, New Zealand Fur Seals and Sea Lions.

After a day at sea, the blue penguins congregate in groups known as "rafts" not far offshore where they often can be heard vocalising - usually short, loud squawks. At dusk penguins come ashore and make their way to their nests where they feed their chicks or roost. Access to Pilots Beach reserve is restricted from one hour before sunset to 8 a.m. year round. Access during this time is permitted only when on a guided tour with Blue Penguins Pukekura.

Our Peninsula Care Code: please respect our peninsula & it’s wildlife

Cultural Heritage: Respect our cultural heritage. Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula have a spiritual and historical significance for many including Mana Whenua, local Māori.
Walking Tracks: Act responsibly on walking tracks that also cross private property by goodwill.
Seals and Sea Lions: Keep a distance of 10 metres. Do not block their path to water. Sea lions are not afraid of you and can move quickly.
Penguins: Hide so penguins can’t see you. Whisper, move slowly. Keep to tracks or out of their pathway; never approach a nest. No flash photography. No dogs - penguins smell irresistable to dogs, dogs are death to penguins.
Freedom Camping: Protect our environment by using best health and hygiene practices. Please only use designated areas for camping, rest stops and waste disposal.
Public Amenities: Please use the public toilets and rubbish bins provided at various reserves or villages.
Fuel: Fuel is not provided on the Otago Peninsula.

You are may see the following wildlife:

(links go to the Department of Conservation website)

Book a tour and your accommodation:

Or enquire and book with the Start with i-Site Dunedin i-Site Visitor Centre.