Pohatu Penguins and Banks Peninsula

Spend 2 days penguin watching, hiking, kayaking and immersed in nature, from a unique beach-side cottage in the Pohatu Marine Reserve.

  • New Zealand
  • Christchurch International Airport, Christchurch (CHC)

Your hosts Shireen and Francis have been protecting the largest colony of Little Penguins in New Zealand for three decades. Stay at their beautiful beach-side cottage in the heart of the Marine Reserve, and spend two days immersed in this most beautiful area. Get close to the penguin colony in their natural habitat, sea kayak in the marine reserve - look out for seals, dolphins, penguins, oysters catchers, petrel and shear-waters. Hike a section of the gorgeous, world-famous Banks Peninsula Track.

Plenty of Instagram material. Loads of fun. Your wildlife adventure includes:

  • 2 days exploring the Banks Peninsula
  • 1 night self-catered accommodation at the cottage in the penguin colony
  • Guided sea kayaking
  • Self-guided bushwalk along the Banks Peninsula Track
  • Evening penguin colony tour
  • Transport to and from Akaora

Perfect for:
Animal lovers, outdoor adventurers and photographers who want an immersive, personal wildlife encounter in one of the most beautiful regions of New Zealand. No kayaking experience needed.

Need To Know

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights to/from Christchurch
  • Travel insurance that covers sea kayaking
  • Food
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips for your guides (optional)

This trip will run with a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 8.

You can book this rip with a minimum of 2 people.

You can book an extra night at the end of the tour for you and your friends. This will cost a total of $85 dollars. So $42.5 per person for 2, and so on.

The penguins head to sea each day to hunt for fish. They leave at sunrise and return just after dusk, so your chances of seeing them during the day are less. However, in season penguins and chicks can be seen up close even during the day.

Your guide will get you set up in the colony in the evening before the penguins return. As the birds have never been disturbed and we do not use flash lights to see them, they come ashore when it pleases them (at sunset just before darkness), either one at a time or in groups. The birds come ashore in groups, so you’ll be right in the middle of a parade of waddling, hopping penguins as they return to their burrows in the shrubland.

Camouflage jackets and binoculars help you get an up-close view, but you must not disturb the penguins in any way. You can take pictures, though use of a flash is prohibited.

No previous kayaking experience is needed, but you do need to possess a moderate level of fitness to enjoy a morning of paddling followed by several hours of hiking.

This trip is self-catered, so that’s up to you. You’ll stop at a supermarket in Akaroa on your first evening to buy groceries.

Your cottage in Pohatu Bay has a full kitchen equipped with a fridge, range, microwave, electric kettle, and toaster, as well as all the usual cookware and utensils.

From September to February the temperatures average 14 –22 °C during the day and 5 – 12 °C at night. It’s sunny and clear more than two-thirds of the days each month.

Water temperature starts out at a brisk 10 °C in September and warms up to 16 °C by January.

Your host will provide all the necessary equipment for sea kayaking (double kayak, paddle, lifejacket, spray jacket and spray deck), and for penguin watching (camouflage jacket and binoculars).

Your host recommends you pack:

  • Sturdy footwear with good tread—the penguin colony can get slippery
  • Light-weight hiking clothes
  • Warm jacket and trousers
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses and sunblock)
  • Small backpack for carrying personal items on the bushwalk

Start point?
Your host will meet you at BNZ bank (Unit 2, 8 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa 7520) at approx 11.45 on the first day. They will be in touch to confirm.

Finish point?
Your host will drop you back at the BNZ bank early afternoon on the final day.

Getting there and away?
Christchurch Airport (CHC) is served by regular, direct flights from most major hubs in Australia. You can get any flights that suit you. From there, you will need to catch a bus or shuttle from Christchurch through to your meeting point at Akaroa. Your host will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

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Location

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The Banks Peninsula formed from volcanic eruptions between 8 and 11 million years ago. Two ancient volcanic craters now form the long, sheltered Akaroa Harbour, and old lava flows extend into the ocean like fingers, creating countless bays and coves. The variety of surface and subsurface topography makes the Banks Peninsula an ideal habitat for all sorts of wildlife.

In particular, the White-Flippered Penguin calls the Banks Peninsula home. It’s a subspecies of Little Penguin unique to the Canterbury region. The penguin stands just 30cm tall and weighs a paltry 1.5kg. Of the estimated 3,750 breeding pairs of White-Flippered Penguins in the world, roughly 1,304 pairs are found at the 91Ha colony in Potahu Bay.

Local conservation efforts have kept the colony going despite threats from invasive predators and disease. By participating in this trip you help support these important conservation efforts—and you get to see these diminutive penguins from the best possible vantage point.

Start point?
Your host will meet you at BNZ bank (Unit 2, 8 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa 7520) at approx 11.45 on the first day. They will be in touch to confirm.

Finish point?
Your host will drop you back at the BNZ bank early afternoon on the final day.

Getting there and away?
Christchurch Airport (CHC) is served by regular, direct flights from most major hubs in Australia. You can get any flights that suit you. From there, you will need to catch a bus or shuttle from Christchurch through to your meeting point at Akaroa. Your host will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrival

After meeting your host at the booking office in Akaroa at around 11.45 you’ll take a wildly scenic drive (2 hours) to the Banks Peninsula, a tongue of land formed by ancient volcanoes just south of Christchurch.

You’ll now have the chance for bush-walk downhill to Pohatu Bay on the famous Banks Peninsula Track. The coastal views are jaw-dropping, and along the way you’ll pass waterfalls, tree ferns and beech forests with trees over 400 years old.

You’ll walk through to your accommodation, and your guide will drop your bags off in the 4WD. You’ll arrive at Pohatu Bay at the perfect time to see penguins.

With the help of camouflage, binoculars and a knowledgeable guide, you’ll infiltrate the colony when the birds are most active.

Watch as they socialise in the water, then slowly make their way uphill to their burrows. It’s a completely natural setting and you have a front-row seat.

Tear yourself away as night falls and return to your cottage for dinner and drinks.

2 hours of Penguin watching, 2-3 hours bushwalk.

Day 2: Sea kayaking in the harbour

Wake up with a steaming cup of coffee and get ready for a memorable morning paddle in the Pohatu Marine Reserve.

During approx an hour and a half with your guide, you’ll navigate in and out of calm bays and beneath soaring cliffs while keeping an eye out for yellow-eyed penguins, albatross, seals and maybe even some hector dolphins.

Grab lunch and dry clothes at your cottage, then your host will drive you back to the booking office in Akaroa at 12 pm, unless you have booked another night in the cottage.

2 hours of guided kayaking

Note: The actual itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc.

Accommodation

You’ll stay at a private cottage managed by your hosts. The cottage is on a working sheep farm in Pohatu Bay, just meters from a swimming beach and the penguin colony.

There are three different cottages you can stay at. Two of the cottages have electricity, one sleeping five people and one sleeping eight. There is also a cottage without electricity. This cottage has solar-powered water and a log-burning fireplace. If you are looking for a totally offline experience, we would recommend opting for this cottage.

If you wish to book an extra night for the end of the tour for some extra time soaking up the area, you can simply choose to book the ‘optional extra’ at the point of booking.

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Dates & Prices

Prices include

  • Accommodation
  • Equipment
  • Guide
  • Local Transport

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

Sorry, no group trips are currently planned,
Special requirements? Get a quote for a custom trip

Sorry, no private trips are currently available for this product. Try a group trip or ask for a quote.

Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

An extra night accommodation at the end of the experience Payable Before Departure
Extra night in Pohatu AU$85.00 Per Night

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