Our South Island top 5 places to see wildlife
Here you will find our pick for the 5 regions of the South Island that we believe to be worth visiting. All operators are Department of Conservatoin approved operator and stand to make a real difference so please when choosing your next wildlife adventure, think about supporting them.
1 - Otago Peninsula/Dunedin
Otago Peninsula is home to rare and vulnerable wildlife: Little penguin, Yellow-eyed penguin, Royal albatross (the only mainland breeding colony), Fur seal, Sea lion…
Photo credits: Royal Albatross Centre, Elm Wildlife, Otago Daily Time Dunedinnz.com
2 - Banks peninsula
Near Christchurch, Banks Peninsula hosts the biggest colony of Little Penguins on the mainland in New-Zealand, known as the endemic variant of Canterbury, The White-Flippered Penguin (more information on our blog about White-flippered penguins).
Many other birds and sea-birds can be spotted in the area: Cormorants (spotted shag, pied shag, black shag, little shag…), Sacred Kingfisher, White-faced heron, Oyster catcher, Northern Giant Petrel, Sooty shearwater, Gannet…
Photo credits: NZ birds online
Banks Peninsula is also home to the Hector Dolphin, the smallest and also one of the rarest species of dolphin in the world. Numerous fur seal colonies are spread around the cost of Banks Peninsula. Other marine mammals such as orcas, blue whales, southern right whales are sometimes spotted.
Photo credit: Pohatu Penguins, Mark Kitchingman
Akaroa is the departure point of small eco-tourism companies which allow you to see Hector Dolphins, Little Penguins and Fur seals with a near 100% guarantee.
Photo credit: EcoSeaker, Pohatu Penguins, Black Cat
3 - Kaikoura
Kaikoura is certainly the place to see marine mammals: Sperm whales, Dusky dolphins, NZ fur seals and sometimes other types of whales on their migratory routes (humpback whale, pilot whale, Blue whale, right whale…)
Photo credits: Whale spotters, Wings over whales, Seal swim Kaikoura, Kaikoura kayaks
Numerous companies are operating in the area. Whether you decide to watch from a boat, a kayak, a helicopter or from the land, there is something for any budget!
4 - Stewart Island
If there is a place in New-Zealand where wildlife outnumbers people, well that is definitely in Stewart Island! With over 85% of the island being National Park, it is haven for wildlife watchers.
The unique wildlife sanctuary (predator-free) Ulva Island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rifleman, saddleback and yellowhead amongst other species. The brown kiwi (Tokoeka) can be spotted in the wild, foraging for its diner on the beach at dusk…
Photo credits: NZ Bird online, Wikipedia, Te Ara
Other spotted birds include: Kaka, Albatross, little penguin… The endangered Yellow-eyed penguin has a significant number of breeding sites here and there are large colonies of Sooty Shearwaters on the offshore Muttonbird Islands.
In term of marine mammals, some migratory whale species go past the shore and sometimes the inlets of Stewart Island. Common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins are regular visitors to the coast and Paterson Inlet.
5 - Arthurs pass
Photo credits: nzbirdsonline.org.nz, Arthur’s Pass