Dunedin and Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour (2023)

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Spot rare yellow-eyed penguins and visit the nesting grounds of the northern royal albatross during a full-day tour of the Otago Peninsula and Dunedin. Spend the morning touring Dunedin city center including the octagonal highlights, followed by a visit to the gardens of Larnach Castle, with the option to enter and purchase lunch. In the afternoon, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Otago Peninsula and scenic coastline 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 wildlife viewing on the Otago Peninsula from Dunedin

  • See Dunedin highlights such as Baldwin Street, Otago University, Dunedin Railway Station, the Octagon and Signal Hill viewpoint

  • Visit a yellow-eyed penguin sanctuary and get an up-close look at this rare penguin species

  • Walk around Taiaroa Head to see the northern royal albatross

  • Pickup and drop-off available from hotels in Dunedin or Port Chalmers cruise port

  • A small-group tour, limited to 19 people, allows for personalized attention from your guide

what is included

  • Local guide

  • Transport by air-conditioned minivan

  • Hotel/port pickup and drop-off

  • Food and drinks unless otherwise stated

  • tips

collecting and collecting

You can go directly to the meeting point or request a pickup

meeting point

  • Dunedin Site Visitor Information Centre

    50 The Octagon, Central Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, Neuseeland

collection points

Select a collection point


This activity ends at the meeting point.

What to expect

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 Port Chalmers cruise port, your guide takes you around the city by minivan.

Catch a glimpse of steep Baldwin Street, the University of Otago and Dunedin Railway Station, famous for its ornate Renaissance design. You'll pass Dunedin City Hall and the Anglican Cathedral of St Paul in the Octagon - the bustling center of the city - and emerge at Signal Hill Lookout for another view.

Then, explore Larnach's extensive gardens with your guide before free time to wander at your own pace. Opt for a tour of the mansion for a historical overview, including rumors of its haunting (select the castle option when booking). You can purchase lunch at the Ballroom Cafe next to Larnach Castle before continuing on.

Upon arrival at a nearby nature reserve on the Otago Peninsula, you will be met by a naturalist guide for a tour of New Zealand's yellow-eyed penguins. A moderate hike and 90-step descent brings you to hideouts to see the nesting site up close without disturbing the world's rarest penguins.

Then return to your minivan for the drive to Taiaroa Head to visit the northern royal albatross nesting grounds. Look for seabirds with the largest wingspans gliding over headlands. Then admire the coast on your return to Dunedin, where your day trip ends.

signal hill

Outstanding views of Dunedin

7 minutes • Free entry

Baldwin Street: the steepest street in the world

Take a picture of the steepest residential street in the world!

7 minutes • Free entry

Further information

  • You will receive confirmation at the time of booking.

  • Moderate walking is required, there are 90 steps into the penguin sanctuary. A moderate level of fitness is required

  • Bring a waterproof jacket, sunglasses, hat, and closed-toe shoes suitable for hiking

  • Operates in all weathers, please dress appropriately

  • Departure time is subject to change depending on cruise ship schedule

  • We guarantee you will see at least 1 penguin, but remember that penguins are wild, shy birds and sightings can be limited

  • Not wheelchair accessible

  • accessible shopping cart

  • near public transport

  • Most travelers can participate

  • This tour/activity has a maximum of 16 travelers

Cancellation policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours before the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the start of the experience.

  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the start of the experience, the amount paid will not be refunded.

  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the start of the experience will not be accepted.

  • Check-in times are based on the local time of the experience.

  • This experience requires good timing. Cancellation due to inclement weather will be offered an alternative date or a full refund.

  • A minimum number of travelers is required for this experience. If you cancel because the minimum has not been met, you will be offered an alternative date/experience or a full refund.

about cancellations.

Traveler photos

Dunedin and Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour (9)

Tips for travelers

Although Dunedin is off the beaten path for tourists, don't miss this tour.

Back to Nature Tours offers a complete tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula (showing you more in one day than any other company we've come across) at an extremely reasonable price.

After that a walk to try to see the albatross but unfortunately nobody is there for the 15 minute stop - but that's nature.




Total number of reviews and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews

Viator reviews from travelers

Showing 1-10 of 70 reviews

Best guide and a great tour!


July 2021

Chris was an excellent guide! He was knowledgeable and had a scientific background which is a huge plus for nature and wildlife tours. We learned a lot about the area and saw amazingly rare birds, beaches, marine mammals and architecture. The tour was good and informative. It was never boring and the day passed quickly. Great tour and we can only recommend it!

Host response, July 2022

Hi Mary, Thanks for the initial rating of 5. It was great to be driving again. I kind of felt like I was in the 60's when I was a one man band and only took a few people touring in my Toyota Hi Ace 4WD 9 seater. It was fun. God bless you and your family - hurry back!

worth time and money


December 2020

Very helpful with all the local information and trying to make sure most of the birds and mammals worked together to ensure everything possible was created for a memorable day

Host response, July 2022

Hey Chris, thanks for the feedback! Check back soon!

Great day trip, see more of Dundein


August 2020

Excellent day tour, very informative and friendly guide. The highlight was the Yellow Penguin Sanctuary, we got to see the penguins coming in from the ocean and up the beach to their nest boxes. The setup of the sanctuary was great as we could see it without penetrating too much as they built semi-underground ditches so we could walk upright and look at ground level so as not to scare the penguins. Seeing the stamps was a plus. The day we went wasn't the best of weather but that wasn't a huge disadvantage. the peninsula from the castle towers. Good day everyone.

Host response, December 2020

Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for the 5 star review - we are delighted that you enjoyed your time with us. It rains here from time to time, so we're glad the weather didn't spoil your spirits, you made a rainy day feel sunny! you are an inspiration Have Ye Back!

Albatross and penguin sightings


March 2020

We had a great day! Our guide was amazing and knew exactly where to go for the best wildlife views.

Host response, March 2020

Hello Dale, Thank you for your 5-star review! There is no doubt that these are better times and certain places that increase your chances of seeing wildlife on the Otago Peninsula. Our guides take into account a number of variables before the tour begins to ensure you have the best experience that day. It's nice to hear that you enjoyed your day in Dunedin. You're a Legend Back to Nature - Rod Ye Back!

Great tour of the Otago Peninsula


March 2020

The Dunedin and Peninsula tour was very enjoyable and Ben was a great guide. After being picked up directly from the port we made our way to Dunedin and had a chance to see and walk down Baldwin Street. I walked to the university (consider deleting this from the tour - not very interesting although Ben tried his best), the train station (pretty cool) and past the town hall and church. Then we went to Larnach Castle. I didn't think I'd be very interested in the castle and didn't pay for the extra tour, but I found the walk around the grounds quite enjoyable. Then we drove to the peninsula. Ben pointed out several bird species and then took us to a beach to see sea lions (another really cool stop). We then went to see penguins - we didn't see any yellow-eyed penguins in the wild, but we did see some blue-eyed penguins. I saw several species of penguins at Penguin Place as well as many seals. The last stop was the nesting site of the northern king albatross. I saw several of these beautiful birds and took some great photos. This was definitely the highlight of the tour for me. Ben was very knowledgeable and a great guide. I definitely recommend this tour.

Host response, March 2020

Hello Anita, thanks for your 5 star rating, it really makes our day when we get this kind of feedback. We know you are busy so take the time to let us know that you enjoyed your time with Back to Nature Tours, it really makes our day!

A must-do tour in Dunedin


March 2020

Ollie is very professional and I knew from the moment I met him that I was in good hands. Well timed and well paced; No stress and I'm so happy to be able to see many of the sights of the Otago Peninsula while learning about the history. In short, I had an unforgettable experience! Thank you Ollie, Chris and Back to Nature Tours.

Host response, March 2020

Hello Christine, thanks for the 5-star rating! Oli is certainly laid back, that's how he does his tours and from the feedback we've received it seems to be working :) Structuring her interpretation while touring is a real skill - Oli has been touring with us for three years so he has did it Perfect it - we're glad you chose us! If you ever do this again contact us for a clan discount, you are a Back to Nature legend, hurry up!

Otago Peninsula and Wildlife Tour


March 2020

Olli did a great job! He took us to see seals and albatrosses and pointed out many birds that can only be found in New Zealand. He gave us time to visit Larnach Castle as well. We really enjoyed visiting the yellow-eyed penguins. Thank you Olli for making this day so wonderful and unforgettable.

Host response, March 2020

Hello Linda, Thank you for your kind 5-star review. We are very happy that you enjoyed your time with Oli. He is passionate about the wildlife of the Otago Peninsula and loves to share his expert knowledge with people like you - I pass the feedback on to him. You are a Back-to-Nature legend! Rod Ye Back!

Great way to experience the wildlife of the peninsula


March 2020

It was a great tour where we got to see yellow eyed penguins, albatross and various other birds. Tour guide Oli really knows what he is talking about and was very good at answering questions. If you have the time, go ahead and enjoy this tour, it's worth it. Thanks to Oli for a great day!

Host response, March 2020

Hi William, thanks for your 5 star review - Oli loves to take people on our full day tour and mentioned you guys were a really fun bunch. From the whole team at Back to Nature Tours Got it back!

Up close and personal tour


February 2020

Ben was very knowledgeable about the area, economy and wildlife. As it is a small group in a smaller vehicle he will take you on the smaller roads along the bay to get up close and personal with the birds and a very confident sea lion. Recommended.

Host response, February 2020

Kia Ora Paulaben11, Thank you for taking the time to support us. Your 5 star rating really makes our day. We specialize in putting together small groups to give you the best possible experience when visiting Dunedin - it's important that you get a personalized experience from our guides. I'll pass on your compliments when I see Ben at our team dinner tonight. Have a great day - you are a Back to Nature legend! Hurry back!

Cute yellow-eyed penguins!


January 2020

A great small group tour with a knowledgeable, energetic and helpful guide. We saw penguins in the wild. Very good tour.

Host response, January 2020

Hi Nicole, thanks for your initial rating of 5, it really makes our day better. The yellow-eyed penguin is the world's rarest penguin - we're so glad you got a chance to see it. The wildlife on the peninsula can be incredible, especially during the day, so make sure to come back soon!



November 2019

Interesting tour with diverse fauna. It includes some hikes that were good, good views. Very knowledgeable tour guide.

Host response, December 2019

Hello Helene, nice to hear that you enjoyed your time in our beautiful city! All the best! Rod Ye back!

A great tour

Sherry M,

November 2019

We got to see everything that was promised and we really enjoyed the tour. Unfortunately we didn't see any albatrosses but the guide was great and we loved the view and the yellow penguins. Lanarch Castle was very beautiful and the train station was very impressive.

Host response, December 2019

It's people like you that we love. Those who live in the moment and understand nature in terms of nature. You are a legend of return to nature! Rod Ye Back!

Great tour at a great price


November 2019

Back to Nature Tours offers a complete tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula (showing you more in one day than any other company we've come across) at an extremely reasonable price. Ben, our guide, was very knowledgeable about the area and was an expert on flora and fauna (especially penguins!). A thoroughly informative and entertaining day!

Host response, December 2019

Hi Denveri, Thank you for your feedback - much appreciated - we will pass it on to Ben. Back to Nature Tours is one of Dunedin's oldest tour companies and we aim to make our tours comprehensive and affordable - glad you enjoyed it!Steam Ye Back!

just don't deliver

Doug S,

November 2019

This tour was simply a let down for our group. It was a beautiful, undisturbed day. Upon arrival at the penguin attraction and albatross center we were told we probably wouldn't see it either and they were right. There were 2 of the rare and endangered yellow eyed penguins in nest boxes but you couldn't tell them apart unless you had good binoculars. It wasn't like they were just walking around. There were many other seabirds at the albatross center but couldn't see the ones we wanted. Larnach Castle is pretty boring if you've been to any other castle in Europe, but its gardens were spectacular and well worth a visit if that's what you're into.

Host response, November 2019

Hello Doug, Thank you for your feedback, without which we cannot continue to improve our service - thank you for it. Their guide that day told the group that they might not see the Royal Albatross fly because there was no wind. They need at least 15 knots of wind to fly because they are such a big bird, but the day you arrived was almost too perfect - there was no wind, after that visibility was poor. We tell our customers there's a 70% chance of seeing these majestic birds - we're really sorry they didn't fly to you. The yellow-eyed penguin is the rarest in the world and they were sitting on eggs when they arrived, it was lack of exercise, you are absolutely right. We have now put some additional "areas" in reserve since we received your feedback. We hope this helps when the birds are further away. Thank you again for helping us with your comments. We are obviously disappointed that you did not like the interior of Larnach Castle, but this is an option we offer our guests if they are interested in 'colonial New Zealand' - most of our guests prefer to explore the gardens of 'international Meaning' - like you said, they're pretty spectacular.

Wonderful time in Akaroa


May 2019

This was an excellent tour of our recent cruise to New Zealand. The guide was very knowledgeable and understood the area. We even saw the yellow-eyed penguins. very cool!

Host response, August 2019

Thank you for your 5-star rating. Our customers only have a short time in Akaroa because it's a 'soft haven' so we're glad you enjoyed your day :)Steam Ye Back!

views and animals

Michael S,

February 2019

We were lucky enough to do a private tour when the cruise ship changed their schedule. The owner didn't think to quit with just the two of us. Although Dunedin is off the beaten path for tourists, don't miss this tour. It was excellent. The view is spectacular. The birds, seals, penguins and other animals can be seen there. Our guide was knowledgeable and there was just the right amount of walking on the trails.

Great to see the penguins


December 2018

First we went to the local viewpoint but unfortunately we couldn't see much due to the weather. Then on the steepest street in the world I was disappointed that we didn't have enough time to walk up the street. When you have "THE STEEPEST STREET IN THE WORLD" I mean up and down, not limited to a 2-3 minute period. From there we drove to the university where the group was given a 5 minute walk/drive which I didn't join as I wasn't interested. Hence the disappointment that a university tour on the steepest street in the world took longer. We were told it was a very limited city tour which I respect but I think priorities need to be set, or at least the group asked which ones they would like extra time for. Although I was on a cruise ship day tour and the majority were over 60 the option should have been given as I feel the majority on the bus would have given me a little more time to walk the street and time to give up at university. We saw 2 penguins at the rehabilitation center and had about 5 minutes to watch them. Then down to the coast for a nice walk and saw lots of seals, fairy penguins (male in their nest boxes and from a distance a lone sea lion. After that a walk to try and see the albatross but sadly didn't stop for 15 minutes - but that's it the nature.

New Zealand wildlife


November 2018

A great small group tour with a young, knowledgeable and helpful guide. I really enjoyed the day and would recommend it.

Then saw the usual sights in Dunedin. . .

Janete R,

March 2018

Saw the usual sights in Dunedin, then went into the countryside and saw beaches, farms and the penguin sanctuary, then the albatross nesting site. You can't see the nest sites from land, but if you're on a cruise ship, you'll pass them right up the starboard side on the way out to sea. Sharon was a great guide full of enthusiasm and knowledge

I really enjoyed this tour. Our...


March 2018

I really enjoyed this tour. Our guide Glen taught us a lot about New Zealand and Dunedin. We saw so much beautiful wildlife and the side trip to see the yellow eyed penguins was a treat. Great job Glenn!


Product code: 6586ROYAL

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