Otago Wildlife Cruise, Penguin Reserve & Dunedin Highlights
Enjoy a cruise around Otago Harbor, and experience a wildlife cruise around Taiaroa Head. See what cannot be seen from land: unrivaled viewing of the exciting diversity of wildlife that abounds on and around Taiaroa Head, the only mainland nesting place for albatross in the world. Taiaroa Head is also home to New Zealand fur seals and the royal albatross colony, along with a fascinating array of other ocean birds and marine mammals, such as mollymawks, petrels, cormorants, and sometimes even dolphins. Upon embarking the boat, morning tea, warm coats, binoculars, and information sheets will be provided.
After your cruise you will transfer by bus to Penguin Place for a guided tour of the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve to see the rarest penguin in the world, found only on the south east coast of New Zealand. Short bus trips take small groups into the reserve where your guide will lead you on foot through a unique system of covered trenches into viewing hides, allowing access to the living areas and breeding grounds of this shy penguin. This provides the opportunity to witness and photograph undisturbed activity at close range.
Your tour continues with a scenic drive along the Otago Peninsula. You'll hear about the fascinating geology and the Maori and European history of the area, and enjoy spectacular harbor and ocean views as you head back to Dunedin City. You will be dropped off in the city for sightseeing at your leisure and return back to the ship by one of the shuttles departing regularly from the city center.
Please Note: The downtown area is approximately 20 minutes drive from the cruise pier. Guests are responsible for getting back to their ship in a timely manner and at their own cost. Some cruise lines do offer shuttle service. Please check on board if this is a complimentary service or not. There is a restroom on the boat and also at the Yellow Eyed Penguin reserve. As tour does not return until mid-afternoon, guests with special dietary needs may wish to bring along an additional snack.
Reviewer: Mary Swanson
After slight confusion as to the start time of our excursion, the Otago Wildlife Cruise was very enjoyable. We are a small group, I0 people on the boat, which was ideal. We saw some seals on the rocks on our way out and the highlight was watching the Albatross in flight and landing near us. At one point we have several different varieties that our guide pointed out. We had been pre-warned that the chances of seeing any yellow-eyed penguins would be slight and they were right. The penguins we did see were at the hospital area and behind fences. A short hike was involved to see a few more seals and a beautiful beach. We also were able to see a few blue penguins in their shelters along the hillside of our walk.
The cruise was great we saw a lot of birds and seals but no whales. The Yellow eyed penguin reserve was very interesting and the way it was set up made viewing excellent. very enjoyable tour with great guides.
Reviewer: Karen D.
I liked the overall itinerary and variety of activities. The boat captain was not only knowledgeable but genuinely excited to point out what wildlife he could see. The small group allowed everyone to have their own binoculars. The penguin reserve was unique to see them in the wild and up close in the hospital. The drive back to the city center along the coast was pretty with just the right amount of commentary.
We had a great time, we saw everything from the small boat. Our friends took a bus tour and missed the best parts.
Reviewer: Travel Bug
Our group of four adults enjoyed the Otago Wildlife Cruise & Penguin Reserve very much. The cruise portion was on board a small craft with a knowledgeable naturalist who was both informative and great at spotting the wildlife. Unfortunately the penguin colony had been decimated the previous winter so there was only a lone penguin chick for us to see, but he did perform by walking around for us to view him, as well as those others we got to see at the penguin hospital. As for the Dunedin portion of the drive all we did was drive through the city on our way back to the cruise ship. We did have a choice of being dropped off in Dunedin but our cruise ship charged for the return shuttle so we chose not to get off. All in all I would recommend this tour as the eco portion of the tour was very enjoyable. One other note here another couple traveling with us had to cancel going on this tour due to a medical emergency and we were all impressed with Shore Excursions Group for giving them a full refund without question. We will definitely use Shore Excursions Group again.