Penguin Tours

Photo opportunities

Fully experienced guides

Evening Tours

Natural environment

Pōhatu is the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand and the family has worked over the last three decades protecting Kororā/White-Flippered Penguins (Eudyptula minor albosignata), Canterbury's own variant of Australasian Little Penguin, from introduced predators.

This is a wonderful option for people who wish to take part in our monitoring program and discover more, in depth, about our conservation efforts. This gives you great insight into the life of a penguin and the chance to see the birds up-close and a unique opportunity to watch them socializing on the water.

After a breathtaking scenic drive over Akaroa extinct volcano and photo opportunities you will discover tranquil Pōhatu bay where you will set off for a walk around the colony to monitor nesting sites and make sure that our Little Penguins are doing well. Then, you will have the unique opportunity to spot some undisturbed from our hides, socializing on the water with provided binoculars and telescope.

With night falling we have a high likelihood to see some penguins returning to shore and relaxing on the rocks before heading to their nests. As they have to walk so far to feed chicks we leave before dark and leave them in peace.

In addition, tours booked late November to February may have the opportunity to see up-close rehabilitation efforts such as feedings and swim therapy. (Call ahead to see if we have rescued penguins in rehab.)

Evening penguin tour

  • Adult

  • $95

  • Child

    5 to 15 years old*
  • $55

  • Infant

    2 to 4 years old*
  • $35

  • Family price

    2 adults + 2 children
  • $250

  • Family of Five

    2 adults + 3 children
  • $250

What to bring

  • Good walking shoes or boots with good grip soles that can cope with a bit of mud in wet conditions.
    The track can be demanding for some and can be slippery in wet conditions. We do our best to have a well formed track in good condition as far as the viewing hides that most people can cope with.
  • Bring warm clothing (some additional camouflage clothing will be provided).
  • Binoculars. Although we provide some, you might want to bring your own as we might not have one per person.

Tour includes

  • 4WD transportation from Akaroa by 4WD minibus to and from Pōhatu bay on some of Banks Peninsula back country road,
  • Welcome by rare sheep breeds that can be hand fed,
  • A conservation walk and talk within the penguin habitat,
  • Monitoring of penguin nesting homes to check on the colony,
  • With camouflage gear and through binoculars and scope, watch penguin(s) in the middle of the bay, preening, resting and socializing,
  • A likelihood of some birds coming ashore just under the hides as it get darker
Wondering what is happening in the colony and what you might see when you come?
Time of the year Viewing expectation Viewing probability
September - Mid  October Nesting sites (Adults, maybe some on eggs)
Socializing on the water
High Likelihood
Mid October - Mid December Nesting sites (Adults, chicks and eggs)
Socializing on the water
Mid December - Mid February Nesting sites Adults moulting (losing their feathers)
Socializing on the water
High Likelihood
Mid-February - End of February Some socializing on the water Likelihood to None
March - Mid-April Maybe late moulters at the beginning of March. Only in nesting sites. None
Mid-April - end of May Nesting sites (Adults on social visit)
Socializing on the water
High Likelihood
High Likelihood
June - August Nesting sites (Adults on social visit)
Socializing on the water
High Likelihood
Although it is rare not to have a single penguin in the bay, birds come and go and there are times with more penguins than others. You can call ahead to check what's happening in the bay.


  • We only rely on natural lighting as the penguin colony has been studied to be very sensitive to light.
  • We generally depart 2.5 hours before sunset.
  • Depending on the time of year we need to adjust the departure time but the table below gives you a rough idea of timings.
  • As this activity happens outside and in isolated areas, there are risks involved that may be higher than day to day living so you can find our Risks disclosure here.

Approximate departure times:

January 7.30 - 7.00pm   July 3.00pm
February 7.00 - 6.15pm   August 3.30 - 4.00pm
March No tours   September 4.00 - 4.30pm
April 4.00pm   October 4.30 - 6.00pm
May 3.30pm   November 6.00 - 7.00pm
June 3.00pm   December 7.00 - 7.30pm

Only in Akaroa for the day?

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.

Check out also our 24 hour Pohatu package

Experience a night right in the middle of the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand! Our cosy units are available to enable you to spend more time at Pōhatu Bay and free time to relax and explore Pōhatu´s many secret places. The accommodation is located within easy walking distance of our beautiful safe sandy beach.