Insider's Guide to Dunedin & The Otago Peninsula

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5 star rating: Highly Recommended 4 Reviews

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  • Location:Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Duration:7 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour

See the highlights of Dunedin’s city center and Larnach Castle in the morning, then spend the afternoon immersed in the natural beauty of the Otago Peninsula. Visit the nesting grounds of the rare and endangered yellow-eyed penguin and northern royal albatross as you explore the scenic coast along Taiaroa Head. Small-group tour with a maximum of 19 people allows for personalized attention from your knowledgeable 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

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour

Otago Peninsula wildlife

After morning pickup in Dunedin, see the city’s highlights including the University of Otago and Baldwin Street, which claims to be the steepest residential street in the world. Take photos of the Dunedin Railway Station, known as “Gingerbread George” for its elaborate Renaissance Revival architecture. Then take in the Octagon, the vibrant city center where many notable Victorian and Edwardian buildings are located, including heritage-listed Dunedin Town Hall and St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral.

Next, leave the city behind as you drive about 20 minutes to reach Larnach Castle, rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of its original owners! The sprawling mansion features beautiful gardens that you explore on a short tour with your guide before having time to wander on your own. Castle tours are optional and at own expense. Here you'll have the option to buy lunch at the ballroom cafe attached to Larnach Castle.

Once you have refueled, continue down the road to a reserve where you observe native yellow-eyed penguins, the rarest penguins in the world. A naturalist guide from the reserve leads you on a 1.5-hour tour through hides and tunnels that allow you to get close views of the penguin nesting area without disturbing the birds. This tour requires that participants be a able to walk at least one third of a mile (600 meters) and climb and descend 90 steps.

When you have completed the penguin viewing, reboard your coach to visit nesting grounds for the northern royal albatross at Taiaroa Head, the only human-inhabited mainland where an albatross colony of any species exists. Learn from your guide about the large seabirds as you look for them gliding over the headlands. Enjoy the beautiful coastline before heading back to Dunedin to end your tour.

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

We had a wonderful, wonderful time on this trip. It was rainy, windy, and a little snowy ! in downtown Dunedin the day we were supposed to leave. Les, our tour guide, came to our hotel about an hour before and asked if we wanted to opt out. Like the idiots abroad my wife and I were, we said Ah, it's only a little chilly, the snow is melting as soon as it hits the ground, we'll be fine! Haha, don't make this similar mistake, people! The trip takes you out to some high high places, where the snow that is melting outside your hotel suddenly packs, and out on the peninsula you'll get the full force of the cold southerly oceanic winds. So, with the attitude of the customer is always right Les agreed to wing it and away we went for 7 hours. There were some things which just weren't accesible - we couldn't get all the way up Signal Hill, a winding, winding road which was packed with slippery snow. We couldn't get to the castle as the storm had felled 3 trees along the path though poor beleagured Les tried TWICE, once early in the day and once later in the day to see if the path cleared. What we DID get was an awesome, awesome tour guide who loved Dunedin, knew all about the history, was happy to field any and all questions no matter how weird. It is OBVIOUS Les loves Dunedin and loves to share it with people. And lemme tell you, even in good weather those narrow roads are pretty terrifying, driving up hills so high your ears pop a few times during the trip, and I'm sure some people look at a map from their home in the States and think Gosh we could rent a car and do this ourselves... Well, I don't recommend that at all!! Get someone who has driven those roads before. What did we LOVE? We loved the albatross area with the beautiful ocean views. We loved seeing Dunedin from all sides of the city, looking down. We REALLY loved the beaches. What we really loved was getting a good Dunedin 101 course from Les as we drove. This is an essential trip!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

We really enjoyed this tour as it included a nice mixture of sites in Dunedin, a visit to the gardens of Larnach Castle, an excellent visit of the fascinating yellow penguin reserve on the Otago peninsula and a brief stop to see the albatross at Taiaroa Head. And in between the guide made several stops for us to admire the breath-taking scenery, e.g. views from on top of Signal Hill in Dunedin of the city, the surrounding hills and the ocean. We also made a number of brief stops on the Otago peninsula - everywhere we looked the scenery was beautiful! The pace of the tour was just right - kept us busy and engaged for a nicely filled day. The only negative was the lunch at Larnach Castle. The site was lovely but we found that the food was pretty poor. Lunch was at our expense but we were disappointed with the quality of the food. Nonetheless, this tour was wonderful and we highly recommend it.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2015

An excellent tour.

The guide was attentive and pleasant. Dunedin is lovely, but the nature and sights of Otago were the most amazing parts

A good value, too!

4 star rating: Recommended December 2014

It was a lovely tour, our German tour guide was very entertaining. The highlight of the tour was the Penguin place!

From USD $ 117.41

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Tour code: 6586ROYAL


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