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Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour

star-4.570 Reviews
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Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour

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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon7 hours  (approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds

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Overview

Peer at rare yellow-eyed penguins and visit nesting grounds of the northern royal albatross during a full-day tour of the Otago Peninsula and Dunedin. Spend your morning sightseeing in Dunedin’s city center, including highlights of the Octagon, followed by a visit to the gardens of Larnach Castle, with the option to go inside and buy lunch. In the afternoon, immerse in the natural beauty of the Otago Peninsula and the scenic coast along Taiaroa Head. Numbers are limited to 19 people to allow for personalized attention from your informative guide.
  • Full-day tour of Dunedin city center and Otago Peninsula wildlife viewing, from Dunedin
  • See Dunedin highlights like Baldwin Street, Otago University, Dunedin Railway Station, the Octagon and Signal Hill lookout
  • Visit a yellow-eyed penguin reserve and get up close to this rare penguin species
  • Walk around Taiaroa Head to view the northern royal albatross
  • Pickup and drop-off available from Dunedin hotels or Port Chalmers cruise port
  • Small-group tour with a maximum of 19 people allows customized attention from your guide
Saved to wishlist!
Local guide
Transport by air-conditioned minivan
Hotel/Port pickup and drop-off
Food and drinks, unless specified
Gratuities
This operator has two meet-up options available. You can either meet at the departure point below or select a location for pick-up.
Dunedin i-SITE Visitor Information Centre , 50 The Octagon, Central Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand

Hmm...we can’t seem to find this place. Please check the spelling, or choose another location.

This activity will end right where it started.
See the highlights of Dunedin, Larnach Castle and the penguins of the Otago Peninsula — all in one day. After morning pickup from your Dunedin hotel or the Port Chalmers cruise port, your guide transports you by minivan throughout the city.

Get a look at steep Baldwin Street, the University of Otago and Dunedin Railway Station, renowned for its ornate Renaissance Revival design. You’ll pass Dunedin Town Hall and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in the Octagon — the lively city center — and step out at the Signal Hill lookout for a wider view.

Next, explore the extensive Larnach Gardens with your guide before free time to meander at your own pace. Opt to tour the mansion for a historical overview, including rumors of its haunting (choose the Castle option when booking). You can purchase lunch at the ballroom cafe adjacent to Larnach Castle before continuing on.

Upon arrival at a nearby nature reserve on the Otago Peninsula, you’re greeted by a naturalist guide for a tour to observe New Zealand’s yellow-eyed penguins. A moderate walk plus a descent of 90 steps takes you through hides for close-up viewing of the nesting site without disturbing the world’s rarest penguins.

Then rejoin your minivan for the drive to Taiaroa Head to visit nesting grounds for the northern royal albatross. Search for seabirds with the widest wingspans gliding over the headlands. Then marvel at the coastline on the return to Dunedin where your day trip ends.
Itinerary
Stop At:  
Signal Hill
Great View of Dunedin
Duration: 7 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Baldwin Street: The Steepest Street in the World
Take a picture of the steepest residential street in the world!
Duration: 7 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
University of Otago
A short minute walk to the oldest University in NZ - the 'clock tower building' is absolutely stunning!
Duration: 7 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Dunedin Railway Station
You'll have 10 minutes to enjoy this unique building - an absolute work of art and easily NZ's finest.
Duration: 10 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Otago Peninsula
We'll spend about 5 hours on the Peninsula where we'll visit a couple of attractions and get out of the bus as much as possible.
Duration: 5 hours 
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Larnach Castle & Gardens
We go to the castle primarily for the gardens however you will be given the option during the booking process to go inside. The gardens are of international significance and have some of the finest views of the harbour. Lunch (not included) can be ordered in the 'Ballroom Cafe'
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
Penguin Place
Your nature guide will take you into a unique reserve to look for the third largest and rarest penguin in the world - the Yellow-Eyed Penguin, listed as 'critically endangered'. You are alos likely to come across NZ fur seals and Little Blue Penguins
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
Taiaroa Head
Our guide will take you to the cliff tops to look for the majestic 'Northern Royal Albatross'
Duration: 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • A moderate amount walking is involved, there are 90 steps at the penguin reserve. A moderate level of fitness is required
  • Bring a waterproof jacket , sunglasses, hat and closed-toe shoes suitable for walking
  • Operates in all weather conditions, please dress appropriately
  • Departure time may change depending on cruise ship schedule
  • We guarantee you will see at least 1 penguin, but please be aware penguins are wild and shy birds and sightings may be limited
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 16 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Back to Nature Tours
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What is the policy on sanitization during Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour?
A:The policies on sanitization are:

  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
See all safety measures taken by Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour.
Q:
What measures are being taken to ensure staff health & safety during Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour?
A:The policy on staff health & safety is:

  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
See all safety measures taken by Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour.

Traveler Photos

Traveler Tips


  • "Though Dunedin is out of the normal driving path for tourists, do not miss this tour." See review
  • "Back to Nature Tours provides a complete tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula (showing more in one day than any other company we found) at an extremely reasonable price." See review
  • "After that a drive to try and see the albatross but unfortunately none where around for the 15 minute stop-but that is nature." See review

Reviews

4.5
star-4.5
70 Reviews
1 star
0

Reviews by Viator travelers

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Showing 1-10 of 70 reviews
star-5
Best Guide and an incredible tour!
Mary_R
, Jul 2021
Chris was an excellent guide! He was knowledgeable and has a science background that is a huge plus for nature and wildlife tours. We learn a lot about region and saw incredible rare birdlife, beaches, sea mammals, and architecture. The tour was well paced and informative. It was never dull and the day went by rather quickly. Great tour and we highly recommend it!
star-5
well worth time and money
Chris_M
, Dec 2020
very helpful with all local info provided and trying to ensure everything possible could be seen most birds and mammals co-operated for a memorable day
star-5
Great day trip, see more of Dundein
Elizabeth
, Aug 2020
Excellent day tour, guide very informative and friendly. Highlight was the yellow penguin sanctuary, we were able to see the penguins coming in from the sea and walking up the beach to their nesting boxes. The set up in the sanctuary was great, as we were able to view without intruding too much as they have built semi underground trenches, so that we could walk upright and look out at ground level, as not to scare the penguins. Seeing the seals was a plus. The day we went wasn’t the greatest weather wise, but that wasn’t too much of a disadvantage... gave the Larnoch Castle visit a bit more atmosphere, but we were lucky to have a break in the weather and saw good views of the Peninsula from the castle turrets. A good day all round.
icon Response from Host , Dec 2020
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for the 5-star review - we're really happy you enjoyed your time with us. It does rain now and again here so we're glad the weather didn't dampen your spirits, you made a rainy day look sunny! Your an inspiration. Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Albatross and penguin sightings
Dale_A
, Mar 2020
We had a really great day! Our guide was amazing and knew just where to go to get the best wildlife views.
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Hi Dale, Thanks for your 5 star review! There is no doubt their are better times and certain places that enhance your opportunities to see the wildlife on the Otago Peninsula. Our guides take into account a whole host of variables before the tour starts to make sure you get the best experience that day. Its great to hear you enjoyed your day in Dunedin. Your a Back to Nature Legend - Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Great tour of the Otago Peninsula
Anita_G
, Mar 2020
The tour through Dunedin and around the peninsula was very enjoyable and Ben was a great guide. After being picked up directly at the port, we headed to Dunedin and had an opportunity to see and walk up Baldwin Street. Went to the university (consider dropping this from the tour - not terribly interesting although Ben did his best), the railway station (very cool), and passed by the town hall and the church. We then headed to Larnach Castle. I didn't think I would be very interested in the castle and didn't pay for the extra tour but I found the walk around the grounds to be quite nice. We then headed to the peninsula. Ben pointed out several bird species and then took us to a beach to see sea lions (another very cool stop). We then headed to see penguins - didn't see any yellow-eyed penguins in the wild but did see some little blue penguins. Saw several penguin species at Penguin Place as well as lots of seals. Last stop was at the nesting grounds for the royal northern albatross. Saw several of these beautiful birds and got some great photos. This was definitely the highlight of the tour for me. Ben was very knowledgeable and a great guide. Definitely recommend this tour.
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Hello Anita, Thank you for your 5 star review, it really makes our day when we get this kind feedback. We realise your busy so to take the time to let us know you enjoyed your time with Back to Nature Tours really make our day! Haste Ye Back!
star-5
A Must-Do Day Tour at Dunedin
Christine_H
, Mar 2020
Ollie is very professional and I knew I was in good hands the moment I met him. Well timed and well paced; no stress and I am so glad I got to view lots of Otago Peninsula's scenery and learn about history at the same time. In short, I had an unforgettable experience! Thank you, Ollie, Chris and Back to Nature Tours.
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Hi Christine, Thanks for the 5 star review! Oli is certainly laid back, that's the way he conducts his tours, and from the feedback we get it sounds like it works:) Structuring your interpretation during a tour is a real skill - Oli has been guiding with us for three years so he's managed to perfect that - we're glad you chose us! If your ever back down this way make sure you get in touch for a clan discount, you're a Back to Nature legend haste ye Back!
star-5
Otago Peninsula and wildlife tour
Linda_U
, Mar 2020
Ollie did a great job! He took us to see fur seals, albatross' and pointed out many birds only found in New Zealand. He gave us time to tour the Larnach Castle, too. We really enjoyed visiting the yellow eyed penguins. Thanks, Ollie for making it a wonderful, memorable day.
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Hi Linda, Thank you for the kind 5 star review, we're really happy you enjoyed your time with Oli. He is passionate about the wildlife on the Otago Peninsula and loves to share her expert knowledge with people like you - I'll pass the feedback onto him. Your're a Back to Nature Legend! Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Great way to experience the wildlife of the peninsula
William_B
, Mar 2020
It was a great tour in which we got to see yellow eyed penguins, albatrosses and numerous other birds. The tour guide Oli really knows what he is talking about and was very good about answering questions. If you have the time you should go ahead and enjoy this tour, it's worth it. Thanks to Oli for a great day!
icon Response from Host , Mar 2020
Hi William, Thanks for your 5 star review - Oli loves taking people out on our full day tour and mentioned that you were a really fun group. From all the team at Back to Nature Tours Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Personal and close up tour
Paula_H
, Feb 2020
Ben was extremely knowledgeable about the local area, economy and wildlife. As it's a small group in a smaller vehicle he takes you on the smaller roads alongside the bay to get close up to the birds and a very confident sea lion. Recommended.
icon Response from Host , Feb 2020
Kia Ora Paulaben11, Thanks for taking the time to support us, your 5 star review really makes our day. We specialize in putting small groups together to give you the best experience possible when you visit Dunedin - it's important that you get to personable experience from our guides. I'll pass your regards on when I see Ben for our staff dinner this evening. Have a great day - you're a Back to Nature legend! Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Sweet yellow eyed penguins !
CorneliaN_P
, Jan 2020
A great small group tour with a knowledgeable , energetic and helpful tour guide. We saw penguins in the wild. Very nice tour.
icon Response from Host , Jan 2020
Hi Nicole, Thank you for your 5 start review, it really makes our day. The Yellow Eyed Penguin is the rarest penguin in the world - we're so glad you managed to see them. Wildlife on the peninsula can be elusive, especially during the day, haste ye back!
star-4
Nice
Helene_S
, Nov 2019
Interesting tour with diverse wildlife. Includes a few walks that were nice, good viewpoints. Tour guide very knowledgeable.
icon Response from Host , Dec 2019
hi Helene, Great to hear you enjoyed your time in our beautiful city! All the best! Haste Ye Back!
star-5
A great tour
Sherry M
, Nov 2019
We were able to see everything promised and thoroughly enjoyed the tour, Unfortunately we did not see any albatross but the tour guide was great and we loved the sights and the yellow penguins. Lanarch Castle was lovely and the railroad station was very impressive.
icon Response from Host , Dec 2019
Its people like you that we love. Those that live in the moment and understand nature on nature's terms. Your're a Back to Nature Legend! Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Great Excursion at a Great Price
John_S
, Nov 2019
Back to Nature Tours provides a complete tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula (showing more in one day than any other company we found) at an extremely reasonable price. Ben, our guide, was very knowledgeable about the area and quite an expert on the flora and fauna (especially penguins!). A thoroughly informative and enjoyable day!
icon Response from Host , Dec 2019
Hi Denveri, Thank you for your feedback - it really does make it all worth while - we'll pass it on to Ben. Back to Nature Tours is one of the oldest tourism companies in Dunedin and we aim to make our tours comprehensive and affordable - glad you enjoyed it! Haste Ye Back!
star-2
Just Doesn't Deliver
Doug S
, Nov 2019
This tour was simply a bust for our group. It was a beautiful day, no hindrances. We were told upon arrival to the penguin attraction and Albatross center that we probably wouldn't see either and they were right. There were 2 of the rare and endangered yellow-eyed penguins in nesting boxes but you couldn't make them out unless you had good binoculars. It wasn't like they were just walking around. There were plenty of other seabirds at the albatross center but you can't see the ones we wanted to. Larnach castle is pretty boring if you've been to any other castle in Europe but their garden grounds were spectacular and worth a visit if that's what you are in to.
icon Response from Host , Nov 2019
Hi Doug, Thanks for your feedback, without it we can't continue to improve our service - thank you for that. Your guide on the day told the group they may not see the Royal Albatross flying because there was no wind. They do require at least 15 knots of wind to fly because they are such a large bird but the day you arrived was almost too perfect - there was no wind, subsequently the viewing was poor. We tell our clients there is a 70% chance of viewing these majestic birds - we're really sorry they didn't fly for you. The Yellow Eyed Penguin is the rarest in the world and they were sitting on eggs during your arrival so there was a lack of movement, you're absolutely right. We have now put a couple of extra 'scopes' in the reserve since your feedback was sent to us so hopefully this helps when the birds are a further away, again, thank you for helping us with your feedback. We're obviously disappointed you didn't enjoy the interior Larnach Castle, however this is an option we offer our clients if they're interested in 'colonial New Zealand' - most of our clients prefer to explore the gardens of 'international significance' - as you pointed out, they're pretty spectacular.
star-5
Wonderful time in Akaroa
Stephen_N
, May 2019
This was a excellent tour from our recent cruise to New Zealand. The guide was very knowledgeable and understood the area. We even saw the yellow eyed penguins. very cool!
icon Response from Host , Aug 2019
Thanks for your 5 star review. Our clients only have a short period of time in Akaroa because its a 'tender port' so we're glad you enjoyed your day":) Haste Ye Back!
star-5
Views and Animals
Michael S
, Feb 2019
We lucked into a private tour when the cruise ship cahnged its schedule. The owner did not consider caneling with just two of us. Though Dunedin is out of the normal driving path for tourists, do not miss this tour. It was outstanding. The views are spectacular. The birds, seals, penguins and other animals are there for the viewing. Our guide was knowledgable and there was just the right amount of walking on trails.
star-4
Great to see the penguins
Andrea_H
, Dec 2018
We first went up to the local lookout but unfortunately due to the weather could not see very much. Then to the steepest street in the word and was disappointed that we where not given enough time to walk up the street. When you have "THE WORLDS STEEPEST STREET" l want to say l walked up and down it not be limited to a 2-3 minute time frame. From there we drove to the university which the group was given a 5 minute walk/tour which l did not participate in as l had o interest. Hence the disappointment that a university tour was given more time the the worlds steepest street. We where told that it was a very limited city tour which l respect but l do feel priorities should be made or at least the group asked which one they would like the extra time. Even though l was on a cruise ship day tour with a majority of over 60's the option should have been given as l do feel that most on the bus would have afforded me the little extra time to walk the street and forego the time at the university. We did see 2 penguins in the rehabilitation centre and had about 5 minutes to watch them. Then down to the coast for a nice walk and saw plenty of fur seals, fairy penguins (manly in their nesting boxes and from a very far distance a lone sea lion. After that a drive to try and see the albatross but unfortunately none where around for the 15 minute stop-but that is nature.
star-5
NZ Wildlife
Paul_B
, Nov 2018
A great small group tour with a young, knowledgeable and helpful tour guide. Thoroughly enjoyed the day and would highly recommend.
star-5
Saw the usual sights in Dunedin then...
Janet R
, Mar 2018
Saw the usual sights in Dunedin then went into the countryside and saw beaches farms and the penguins sanctuary, then the albatross nesting area, you cant see the nesting grounds from the land but if you are on a cruise ship you go right past them on the starboard side on your way out to sea. Sharon was a great guide full of enthusiasm and knowledge
star-5
I really enjoyed this tour. Our...
PATRICIA S
, Mar 2018
I really enjoyed this tour. Our guide Glen educated us so much about New Zealand and Dunedin. We saw so much beautiful wildlife and the side trip to see the yellow-eyed penguins was a treat. Excellent job, Glen!

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