Meet the team

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  Owner and founder of the business. I am a fourth generation farmer on Banks peninsula and when I grew up penguins were in every bay. When my husband and I moved to Pohatu there were heaps of penguins, but as the years rolled on we discovered that the populations were dropping all around the peninsula and that we were lucky to have some left. We decided to do something. A quick look around the hills and we realized that the main reason for the population decrease was the introduction of land predators such as ferrets and stoats. We began the laborious job of trapping. Many traps are set high above the hills in thick bush – it’s not an easy job! After a few years of diligent trapping and other conservation efforts we saw the penguin colony double. Along with predation, human disturbances can also disturb and impact the penguins. In order to minimize human disturbances we began running penguin tours so that we may show people these beautiful creatures, but in a controlled environment to minimize impact. And to these day these tours also directly fund the much needed revenue to continue our conservation work.

Slowly the business grew and activities have been added on. I believe that there is now an option for all to enjoy and I truly hope that joining our tours will enable you to experience the love we have for the place, and the wildlife that call Pohatu home!

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  I am Shireen’s niece and I have been lucky enough to spend pretty much all my childhood holidays at Pohatu/Flea bay.

Animal lover, I very soon showed interest in helping and taking care of the penguins! One day Shireen offered me to start working with her; it was just the two of us at first which was really enriching as we were growing the business and a lot had to be done!

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Born in France, I always love to look at birds and watch their behaviour. After my study in conservation and eco-tourism. I spent a lot of time with different birdwatchers and scientists allowing me to increase my knowledge about these animals. I love to go outside with my camera and shoot the wildlife that surrounds us. I am a traveler who found a home in beautiful New Zealand. Here can practice my two specials skills: birding and kayaking.


  Mother of two and daughter of Francis and Shireen Helps, 5th generation, Akaroa. Growing up in Flea Bay as a child I have always had a special relationship with little penguins. As a child I learned to sleep to the sound of their calls as several pairs were nesting underneath the floorboards of my bedroom. Frequently after a very bad sea storm, our kitchen would act as a recovery ward for injured of under nourished penguins.

I am very proud of the conservation work that both my parents have done over the years to insure the survival of this special little bird and I am happy to share their story and my beautiful home with everyone on our tours!

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I am another French frog that has been trapped inside the Akaroa volcano.

After my environmental studies in France the call of the travel was in me! I arrived in New Zealand in January 2009 with a working holiday visa and 3 words of English.

When I discovered Pohatu/Flea bay, I thought I reached heaven. Shireen took me on a kayaking trip straight away on a still sea. We went into every single sea-cave we could find - what a place! Overtime love found its place and Averil’s charm was the last thing that made me decide on staying. What else could I ask for? A stunning isolated area where I could kayak, help the environment and surrounding wildlife.


  Born and raised in the Loire Valley in France, I traveled for a few years in different parts of the world (mainly on islands!) before arriving in New Zealand in 2009. It was meant to be for a year... It has now been 9 years! I just fell in love with this beautiful country and its inhabitants... well, especially one! After working in health, hospitality and education, I was very happy to join the enthusiastic and passionate team at Pohatu Penguins. You will see me mainly at the shop/office, sometimes with my little helper!


  • Pohatu Package
  • Penguin Tours
  • Sea Kayaking Tours
  • Scenic Nature Tours

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Contact Us 

icon location Wildside Booking Office,
8/2 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa
New Zealand
icon phone 03 304 8542
icon mobile 021 246 9556
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