The Otago Peninsula is a popular day trip from Dunedin. It forms Otago Harbour’s southern shore and is home to lovely seaside villages and New Zealand’s only castle. However its main attraction is the rich variety of wildlife that can be seen here, which includes seals, sea lions and penguins.
Southeastern Bus Lines run buses to Portobello on the Otago Peninsula. They depart from stand 5 outside the Centre City New World supermarket on Cumberland Street in Dunedin.
Many travellers visit the peninsula by taking one of the many day tours that operate out of Dunedin. These include Back to Nature Tours (tel 0800 477 0484) and Elm Wildlife Tours (tel (03) 474 1872). Day tours from Dunedin cost around $80.
252 Harrington Point Road, Portobello
Tel (03) 478 0330
This military post was developed in 1885 as part of Dunedin’s harbour defences. It is now open to the public and features a lighthouse, tunnels and a working Armstrong disappearing gun. The fort is also home to seals, a Stewart Island shag colony and the world’s only mainland albatross colony.
The Royal Albatross Centre has displays that provide insight into these enormous sea birds, which have a wingspan of 3m, and it also leads guided tours of the albatross colony between late November and mid-September.
Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula
Tel (03) 478 0499
Admission free; albatross tour $30
New Zealand’s only castle is a popular stop on coach tours favoured by the over 60s, but it doesn’t really compare to anything in Europe.
Camp Road, Peggys Hill
Tel (03) 476 1616
Admission $25 castle; $10 grounds
Open Jan-Easter 9am-7pm daily; Easter-Sep 9am-5pm daily; Oct-Dec 9am-7pm daily
Run by Otago University’s Department of Marine Science, this aquarium showcases the university’s marine research and is home to marine life from southern New Zealand waters including octopus, seahorses and crayfish.
Hatchery Road, Portobello
Tel (03) 479 5826
Admission aquarium $9; guided tour $18
Open noon-4.30pm daily; guided tour 10.30am daily
The world’s rarest penguin can be seen at this conservation reserve on the ocean side of the peninsula. The conservation reserve features a system of trenches and observation hides that allow you to see these unique animals at close range.
Harrington Point Road, Otago Peninsula
Tel (03) 478 0286
90-min tour $35
Open 1 Jan-7 Apr 10.15am-90mins before sunset daily; 8 Apr-30 Sep 3.15pm-4.45pm daily; 1 Oct-31 Dec 10.15am-90mins before sunset daily