The Penguin Place for encounters with incredibly rare yellow-eyed penguins
Of all the Dunedin wildlife tours, this one is the most famous. At the Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve, yellow-eyed penguins (Maori name hoiho) go about their daily lives while you watch from carefully-disguised hides. There are fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs of yellow-eyed penguins in the world, so this is a very special experience.
Fully grown yellow-eyed penguins are around 75cm tall. They eat mostly krill and nest on land. Because chicks stay with their parents until they're around a year old, there's a good chance you'll see babies as well as grown-ups. Penguin tours operate year-round in the early evening, when the adult birds are arriving home from a busy day of fishing. Much of the money raised by tours goes towards penguin conservation.
At the Penguin Place, yellow-eyed penguins go about their daily lives while you watch from carefully-disguised hides. There are fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs of yellow-eyed penguins in the world, so this is a very special experience.
Parade of the little blue penguins
Smaller than yellow-eyed penguins, blue penguins (Maori name kororā) are ridiculously cute. An adult weighs about one kilogram and stands just 35cm tall. Instead of the traditional black and white outfit, this little penguin teams a white bib with soft bluey-grey.
There are little blue penguins throughout New Zealand, but Otago Peninsula is one of the easiest places to arrange an encounter. On a little blue penguin viewing tour you'll see the whole end-of-day routine. First, the penguins congregate in the water just off the beach. You'll hear them discussing the day, penguin style, with honks and loud squawks. Then they make their way into the beach, where they waddle up the sand to their nests. While this is going on, you'll be watching from a purpose-built viewing platform.
Income from the tours goes towards planting native trees, installing nesting boxes and controlling predators.