Welcome to Otago Peninsula
The Otago Peninsula is home to the South Island’s most accessible diversity of wildlife. Albatross, penguins, fur seals and sea lions are some of the highlights, as well as rugged countryside, wild walks, beaches and interesting historical sites. Despite a host of tours exploring the peninsula, it maintains its quiet rural air
Top experiences in Otago Peninsula
Otago Peninsula activities
Full-Day Wildlife Tour from Dunedin
The tour starts at the Visitor Terminal, ship's wharf in Port Chalmers Dunedin (hotel/motel pickups also available on request). Begin with a comprehensive sightseeing tour of Dunedin's main places of interest. You visit the world's steepest street, Baldwin Street, and the University of Otago, New Zealand's first university. You will take a scenic drive through central Dunedin to visit the Octagon (city center) and the Grand Railway Station for a look inside. Then it’s off to the Otago Peninsula for some more amazing scenic stops on route to Penguin Place, a world class wildlife sanctuary for the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin. Here you will experience close up viewing of these rare penguins in their nesting habitat. The tour includes an introductory talk and then a short drive into the reserve. Your specialist guide will take you on a short walk into a system of camouflaged hides to see nesting Yellow Eyed Penguins. The walk will also take in New Zealand fur seals and Little Blue Penguins. There are some steps to negotiate and reasonable level of mobility is required for this tour. The Yellow Eyed Penguins are one of the rarest penguins in the world and numbers on NZ's South Island have been dropping rapidly over the last 3 years. This year there is just one nesting site of the Yellow Eyed Penguins that can be seen close up. The chick will have at least one parent guarding it for the next few weeks. From around mid-December both parent birds may leave the chick at the nest site while they hunt fish in the sea, to bring back to the chick throughout the day. Timing on the tour is to coincide with the most likely time the adults will be there feeding and tending to their chick but please be aware we do not control the wildlife and it is up to the penguins if they are there or not during our time on the reserve.After the tour of the Yellow Eyed Penguin reserve, you head to the Royal Albatross Center for a look through the information gallery, gift shop and take a light lunch (own cost) at the Albatross Cafe. Your guide will also take you on a short walk to where albatross can be seen flying close to the cliffs. This is included in the standard tour price. If you would like to include a guided tour of the Royal Albatross nesting site (Observatory Tour), an upgrade option is available when making your booking. If the Albatross Tour upgrade is selected you will join a specialist guide at the Royal Albatross Center and access the Lance Richdale Observatory. This purpose built hide provides excellent viewing through large glass windows of the Albatross nesting area. Some nests can be as close as 5 meters away but please be aware that the Royal Albatross Center does not allow tour participants to walk among the nests.
7-Day South Island Photography Tour from Invercargill to Christchurch
Day 1 – The CatlinsToday we head east towards the Catlins. En route we visit the South Island’s most southerly point, Waipapa and its well-known lighthouse. From here we travel inland to explore the waterfalls of the Catlins. These may not be high, but have a subtle beauty all of their own.Day 2 - The Catlins / Otago PeninsulaHeading north through the Catlins, we take in sunrise at the iconic Nugget Point lighthouse. Along the Catlins coast, we will hopefully get the chance to photograph penguins and the magnificent New Zealand sea lion. The day ends at Larnach Castle, one of New Zealand’s most stately buildings, dinner here will be a culinary highlight of the tour, eating in the castle’s grand dining room.Day 3 - Otago PeninsulaThe Otago Peninsula; home to penguins, albatross and sea lions, is often called the wildlife capital of New Zealand. We take a boat charter to view many of these species from the sea, visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Southern Royal Albatross. We end the day photographing sunset over the ridges and estuaries of the peninsula.Day 4 - MoerakiHeading north along the East Coast we stop to photograph the forest birds at Orokonu and a colony of shags along the coastline here. Then we head out into the last light of the day to photograph Yellow-eyed penguins at a coastal reserve on their return from a day out at sea. Tonight we stay near Moeraki, south of Oamaru.Day 5 - Moeraki / KaikouraAn early start to photograph sunrise over the famed Moeraki Boulders which are curiously round rocks known as ‘concretions,’ set into a scenic beachscape. Further north at historic Oamaru, we have the opportunity to photograph the whitestone buildings of this heritage town. Heading further north we drive to north Canterbury, passing through vineyards in autumn colours.Day 6 - KaikouraThe Kaikoura Peninsula protrudes into the Pacific Ocean with the stunning backdrop of the Seaward Kaikoura mountains. Offshore, a deep oceanic trench which is rich in food, supports an outstanding range of seabird species and marine mammals. We take a world-class boat trip to photograph white-caped, wandering or southern royal albatross, as well as giant petrels. Back on land, we photograph fur seals, which have a large breeding colony at the peninsula.Day 7 - Kaikoura / ChristchurchThe Kaikoura Peninsula offers a rare opportunity to photograph the Kaikoura Mountains across the bay, with textured limestone reefs in the foreground. It is one of the best coastal photographic locations in New Zealand. In the afternoon we travel to Christchurch, stopping en route to capture the last of the autumn colours, arriving in time to meet flights or for your onward travel.