The Otago Peninsula encapsulates New Zealand with its rare and unusual wildlife, historic buildings, woodland gardens, a spectacular harbour 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 harbour-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 8 miles away
- The Catlins 92 miles away
- Arrowtown 110 miles away
- Lake Wanaka 111 miles away
- Queenstown 114 miles away
- Twizel 115 miles away
- Lake Tekapo 130 miles away
- Glenorchy 132 miles away
- Te Anau & Manapouri 146 miles away
- Mount Cook National Park 150 miles away
- Stewart & Ulva Islands 153 miles away
- Milford Sound 158 miles away
- Haast & Lake Moeraki 159 miles away
- Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers 170 miles away
- Akaroa & Banks Peninsula 182 miles away
- Doubtful Sound 183 miles away
- Christchurch 189 miles away
- Arthur's Pass National Park 207 miles away
- Hokitika 219 miles away
- Hanmer Springs 255 miles away
- Punakaiki 262 miles away
- Kaikoura 283 miles away