Dunedin’s prime position on the Otago peninsula makes it the ideal base to explore the region from. This is an area where nature reigns supreme with plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities – seals, penguins, and birds in spades. Hertz Dunedin has you covered with a Dunedin Airport car rental – simply pick up your vehicle once you land and you’re all set.
The Otago Peninsula is within easy reach from Dunedin and is one of New Zealand’s most renowned eco tourism areas. It’s not for nothing that Dunedin is known as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. Take a scenic drive either along the harbour side road, Portobello Road, or over Highcliff Road, which will take you past scenic beaches, hills, pastures and plains.
Pay a visit to Taiaroa Head’s Royal Albatross Centre to learn more about the royal albatrossand take a tour to their colony, the only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross in the world. Stake out a spot at one of the many purpose-built viewing areas, take a tour or explore the interactive gallery. There’s also an outstanding souvenir shop and cafe. And just before Taiaroa Head is the Otakou marae and Maori village, from which Otago gets its name.
From Weller’s Rock wharf around Taiaroa Head you can take a boat cruise for some more fantastic wildlife encounters – blue penguins, fur seals, teals, petrels, dolphins and whales.
Other wildlife attractions near Taiaroa Head include fur seals and little blue penguins (the world’s smallest penguin) at Pilots Beach and sea lions on Te Rauone Beach – see what you can spot out in their natural habitats. At nearby Harington Point lies Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve dedicated to helping the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin survive. Small group walking tours can be booked that will take you through the grounds and educate you about their work.
And at Orokonui Ecosanctuary you can see more than 30 rare species of birds, reptiles and plants in this forest environment, which includes New Zealand tallest eucalyptus. Follow the walking tracks at your own pace or take a guided tour. Look out for kiwi, takahe, fantail, bellbird, tui, kereru and more. Native forest – rimu, totara – and other rare flora also flourish here.