Penguin Place is located in Dunedin, and is 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, and is covered with beaches and wide open spaces. It’s a massive open space of land where the weather can change in a minute. The drive from Dunedin to the Otago Peninsula, was incredibly scenic, and we were wowed with each twist and turn, until we finally arrived at Penguin Place.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.
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. Sitting close to an endangered species and watching it waddle by, felt like we were starring in our own private nature show.
The number of visitors are carefully controlled each day, since you are able to get up close and personal with the wildlife, so I’d recommend making a reservation. Guests are taken on guided walking tours through a unique system of man-made trenches to view the penguins undisturbed at close range. We were able to mingle with the penguins at very close range and could see how they they live and breed. The rangers were in radio contact, so they knew how many penguins were on the reserve and where they were located.
We also were able to walk along the beach, and spotted some sea lions basking on the rocks with babies.
We were able to see a few nesting blue penguins in their burrows too.
Seeing the adult penguins waddle onto the sand from the sea to feed their chicks was a magical experience! We observed the penguins in a network of covered trenches on the local beach, to see them close up.
Walking onto the beach to observe seals resting in their natural habitat was simply incredible.
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!
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.
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.
Penguin Place is a unique and special place, and one we will never forget.
Have you been to Penguin Place? Leave your thoughts below.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising feral wolves teenage boys, 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.