Visiting Penguin Place With Kids in Dunedin, New Zealand

Penguin Place is located in Dunedin, New Zealand. It’s not easy to get to, but was one of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand.  Dunedin lies on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The area around the town is covered with beaches and wide open spaces. It’s a massive open space on the coast where the weather can change in a minute, but it’s isolation and landscape is magical.

rainbow in dunedin new zealand heading to penguins place

While Dunedin is a pretty big town, finding penguins here requires a bit of travel through farms, on dirt roads and through all sorts of terrain. The coast here boasts picturesque vistas of sheep, farmland and cliffs overlooking the ocean.

The Otago Peninsula

picture of sheep and penguin at penguins place in dunedin new zealand cliff walk The drive from Dunedin to the Otago Peninsula was incredibly scenic. We were wowed with each twist and turn, until we finally arrived at Penguin to otago peninsula to see penguins

We were able to hike to the top of the cliffs and enjoy the fascinating seascapes of numerous beaches. Its rich, lush, landscape is home to some of the most exotic birds and wildlife on the planet.

Drive from dunedin to penguins place Walking on the beach in dunedinfamily visit to penguins place in dunedin Sheep checking out the tourists who were looking for penguins in dunedin

Penguin Place

Penguin Place is a private conservation reserve that dedicates itself to help save the world’s most endangered penguin, the Yellow Eyed penguin. Tourism is the major source of funds for the reserve, which they use for habitat restoration, on-site rehabilitation of the penguins, research programs and predator control. To get to the reserve, we drove on private farms as this location it’s completely isolated from the public. The fact that the organization needs permits means that they can control the number of visitors and ensures that the penguins stay protected.

Penguin Place is just one of several locations you can visit to experience nature, in a wild and natural environment. It is home to a small breeding colony of Yellow Eyed Penguins.Penguin Place is just one of several locations you can visit to experience nature, in a wild and natural environment. It is home to a small breeding colony of Yellow Eyed penguins.

Sitting close to an endangered species and watching it waddle by, felt like we were starring in our own private nature show.Penguin Place is just one of several locations you can visit to experience nature, in a wild and natural environment. It is home to a small breeding colony of Yellow Eyed Penguins.

The number of visitors are carefully controlled each day, since you are able to get up close and personal with the wildlife.  I’d definitely recommend making a reservation in advance.  Guests are taken on guided walking tours through a unique system of man-made trenches and blinds to view the penguins undisturbed at close range.

We were able to mingle with the penguins up close and could see how they they live and took care of their chicks. The rangers were in radio contact, so they knew how many penguins were on the reserve and where they were located.viewing yellow-eyed penguins in dunedin

We also were able to walk along the desolate beach where the penguins traveled from the sea to their nests, and spotted a lot of other wildlife, including some sea lions basking on the rocks with babies.

the blue penguin is the smallest penguin in the world... and is also endangered...
The blue penguin is the smallest penguin in the world… and is also endangered.

We were able to see a few nesting blue penguins in their burrows too!

family walking on the beach on the Otago Penninsula, near Dunedin walking on the beach momma and baby sea lion on the otago peninsula A nesting seagull A baby sea lion - so cute!

resting seal at Penguins Place

Seeing the adult penguins waddle onto the sand from the sea to feed their chicks was a magical experience!

Penguins on the beach at penguin place in Dunedin new zealandpenguins at penguin place Otago peninsula Kids checking out the penguins at penguin place Otago peninsula

We observed the penguins in a network of covered trenches on the local beach, to see them close up.

Observing penguins in the wild in new zealand Happy boys, so close to the penguins at penguin place

Walking onto the beach to observe seals resting in their natural habitat was simply incredible.

Peace for penguins

Sheep Abound

Sheep and penguin at penguins - you can get vertigo looking at the beach from this sheep farm
One of the best pictures we captured that day

The land is also populated with a vast open sheep pasture, and Dunedin is one of the few places in the world where you can take a photograph of a sheep and a penguin in the same picture!

Picture of sheep and penguin at penguins place in dunedin new zealand

This is not an adventure for the unfit. There is a lot of walking up and down hills and steep paths, and along the “tunnels” from which you observe the penguins.

Penguin place penguins at penguin place otago peninsula with kids penguin place penguins and tidepools

Sunset at Penguin Place

I’d recommend you visit during the late afternoon, as the animals are more active and are usually feeding.  We were also able to watch the sky explode with color, and experience the most breathtaking sunset.

sunset dunedin new zealand - the drive back to Queenstown was a nightmare Our family at sunset in Dunedin, new zealand. This was after 9pm at night. Sunset in dunedin new zealand at Penguins place

Family photo album

Penguin Place is a unique and special place, and one we will never forget. If you’re planning to travel to the South Island of New Zealand with kids, add this to your list!

Have you been to New Zealand? What was your favourite experience?

Leave your thoughts below!


About The Author


I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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