The Otago Peninsula encapsulates New Zealand with its rare and unusual wildlife, historic buildings, woodland gardens, a spectacular harbor and dramatic coastal scenery.
Like so much of the country, the peninsula is volcanic in origin, forming part of an ancient crater wall. For this reason, the landscape is high and rugged along the southern side and sheltered to the north along the harbor-front.
Exploring the peninsula
Taking a half-day drive to do the circuit, you head out on the ‘high’ road which runs over the top of the peninsula via Larnach Castle to Taiaroa Head, home to the royal albatross colony, fur seals and the rare yellow-eyed penguins.
Return via the ‘low’ road along the coast. Excellent wildlife cruises are also available, departing from Dunedin, which explore the area, meeting local populations of seal, albatross, dolphin and penguin.
Wildlife cruises on the Otago Peninsula
A cruise on the peninsula allows you to view the amazing array of ocean birds and marine mammals in their natural environment. Spectacular Taiaroa Head is home to a huge diversity wildlife including fur seals, dolphins, blue penguins, sea lions and the majestic albatross, which is awe-inspiring when it takes to the air.
The Otago Peninsula is the best place to see the yellow eyed penguin, the world's second rarest species, its endangered status a result of the loss of coastal habitat.
Specially designed walkways allow visitors to get extremely close to these quirky birds without disturbing their environment, and guided tours take you through the reserve allowing you to learn more about the birds as you observe them.
Suggested itineraries featuring the Otago Peninsula
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Otago Peninsula, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of the Otago Peninsula
Places & hotels on the map
Places near the Otago Peninsula
- Dunedin 13 kilometers away
- The Catlins 147 kilometers away
- Arrowtown 177 kilometers away
- Lake Wanaka 178 kilometers away
- Queenstown 182 kilometers away
- Twizel 185 kilometers away
- South Island 190 kilometers away
- Lake Tekapo 209 kilometers away
- Glenorchy 212 kilometers away
- Te Anau & Manapouri 235 kilometers away
- Mount Cook National Park 242 kilometers away
- Stewart & Ulva Islands 246 kilometers away
- Milford Sound 254 kilometers away
- Haast & Lake Moeraki 255 kilometers away
- Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers 273 kilometers away
- Akaroa & Banks Peninsula 293 kilometers away
- Doubtful Sound 294 kilometers away
- Christchurch 303 kilometers away
- Arthur's Pass National Park 333 kilometers away
- Hokitika 352 kilometers away
- Hanmer Springs 411 kilometers away
- Punakaiki 422 kilometers away
- Kaikoura 455 kilometers away