The Otago Peninsula, stretches almost from the city on the southern side of the Otago harbor. Just a few minutes drive from the city center will have you passing scenic bays and farmland. The Otago Peninsula is one of New Zealand's most renowned eco tourism areas and its most famous residents are the Royal albatross. At the tip of the peninsular is Taiaroa Head and here you will find the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world.
Larnach is New Zealand's only Castle, built in 1871 by politician and merchant, William Larnach, a man of great vision who helped shape New Zealand's early history. It was built for William's beloved first wife Eliza; it took 200 workmen three years to build the shell and a further twelve years were spent by master craftsmen to embellish the interior. The Castle is located high up on the Otago Peninsula and looks down on Dunedin city giving beautiful views. The gardens have an International Garden of Significance status and have a unique collection of specialised areas for you to explore. The Ballroom cafe is a fantastic place to rest and reflect on all you have seen while enjoying a delicious range of refreshments. As with the entire castle, the ballroom had an interesting and varied history prior to its beautiful restoration, uses ranged from a lunatic asylum, antique sales room to the penning of sheep.
This 60 minute tour focuses on the Royal Albatrosses and wildlife that inhabit Pukekura (Taiaroa Head). Begin with a short film, then enjoy the informative commentary provided by your guide about albatrosses as you visit the observatory to see nesting albatross in their natural habitat.
Today you'll explore the wildlife and history of the Otago Peninsula. You'll be welcomed to the MV Monarch for a wildlife cruise around Taiaroa Head, home to the world's only mainland nesting site for royal albatross. Scattered along the rocks you'll also see New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun and possibly New Zealand sea lions on the beach. In the water you may also see penguins, dolphins and other marine birds. Back on land you'll take a guided tour of New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle built in 1871. Learn of the scandals and history of the castle and explore the beautiful garden of international significance. Your final stop of the day is to Penguin Place, a natural nesting site for the rarest penguin in the world, the Yellow Eyed Penguin.
Discover Kororā, the Little Blue Penguin, the world's smallest penguin. See them in their natural habitat - scurrying up to their cliff-face burrows at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula. After a day at sea, the penguins congregate in groups known as 'rafts' not far offshore where they often can be heard vocalising - usually short, loud squawks. Blue Penguin viewing tours are at dusk when penguins come ashore and make their way to their nests where they feed their chicks or roost.
Take the mid afternoon bus from Dunedin out via the scenic roads of the Otago Peninsula and join Monarch's oceanic Wildlife Cruise around the rugged coastline cliffs. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre for their Classic Albatross Tour, followed by dinner in the Albatross Café. Watch the sunset over the Otago Harbour and view the little blue penguins returning to their burrows after dark. You will then return via bus to your accommodation.