Pohatu is the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Francis and Shireen Helps have worked over the last three decades protecting White-flippered Penguins (Eudyptula minor albosignata), Canterbury's own variant of Australasian Little Penguin, from introduced predators. Because of the sensitive wildlife habitat only guided groups are taken into the breeding colony to view the White-flippered Penguins.
The best time for penguin viewing is the breeding season between end of August to the end of December. Penguins moult through to mid February. There are also small windows of excellent viewing opportunities from early April to September when the birds return periodically from sea.
By spending time with us you are helping the preservation of these beautiful birds for future generations.
This is a wonderful option for people who wish to take part in our monitoring program of nesting sites during the tour as part of our conservation work. This gives you great insight into the life of a penguin and an opportunity to see the birds up-close.
Then, from our hides on the side of a hill using our camouflage gear and binoculars view Penguins undisturbed socializing on the water, and during the breeding and molting seasons a very high likelihood of penguins coming ashore below our hides.
Option one: Scenic 4WD to Pohatu
This option includes pick-up at Akaroa with spectacular Scenic 4WD van ride to Pohatu with photo stop opportunities. Pet sheep will come running for treats.
This tour concentrates mostly on the Little penguin but other native and endemic wildlife may also be seen. e.g the Yellow Eyed Penguins who breed at the bay, New Zealand fur seals, oyster catchers, cormorants...
Tour length is approximately three hours returning after dark.
Note: The Evening penguin tour departure changes due to lengthening or shortening days so please check on the day our current departure time. Join the tour at the bay.
The road to Pohatu is a steep and narrow shingle road and recommended for 4WD vehicles only.
If you have a suitable vehicle you may join the tour at Pohatu. Allow 30 minutes drive from Akaroa.
Pre-booking is essential.
If you do not have the time to stay late or overnight in Akaroa, consider our Scenic Nature tours that would allow you to see penguins up close in nesting sites.