My Dunedin Itinerary

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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.

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 untamedNZ, Awesome Tours NZ or Horizon Tours, who also offer a Southern Skies Stargazing Tour complete with anti-gravity chairs, blankets, soup and garlic bread.

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. Port to Port also offer excellent wildlife and harbour heritage tours as well as ferry services between Port Chalmers and Portobello for foot and cycle passengers, stopping at Quarantine Island where requested.

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.

Dunedin Wildlife Care Code

Dunedin is home to rare and special wildlife. Help us protect our penguins, sea lions and birds for future generations. Please familiarise yourself with the Dunedin Wildlife Care Code, which outlines how to interact with our precious endangered species and their habitats.

You 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.