Otago Peninsula

Visit Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, NZ

  • Otago Peninsula is a 20 km long finger of land that forms the southern edge of Dunedin’s Otago Harbour. Up to 9 km wide, it was formed by volcanic activity about 12 million years ago. The Peninsula’s volcanic origin can be seen in the shapes of its larger peaks, especially Harbour Cone, which rises 1000 feet.

    Maori and pre-Maori settlement of the peninsula dates back to at least 1200 AD. Taiaroa Head, at the tip of the peninsula was a fortified Maori stronghold from 1650. It was again fortified 1886 due to fears of a Russian invasion.

    A colony of Royal Albatross established itself on Taiaroa Head in 1919 and has been protected since then, growing to more than 100 birds in breeding season. This site is the only mainland colony of these birds anywhere in the world. The Yellow Eyed Penguin – the world’s rarest – also nests at sites along the peninsula’s coast.

    Accommodation in Otago Peninsula (NZ)

    The town of Portobello has most of the Peninsula’s accommodation, with motels,backpacker lodges and holiday parks for camping. There are also self-contained units and holiday homes for rent.

    There are many bed & breakfast lodges and farm-stay establishments around the peninsula.

    Several exclusive luxury lodges are found along the peninsula.

    Transport around Otago Peninsula

    Portobello, about half way along the peninsula, is about 30 minutes’ drive from central Dunedin. A regular bus service operates along this route during weekdays, with less frequent services at weekends.

    Tour operators will usually collect guests from their accommodation. For freedom touring, it is recommended to hire a vehicle, in order to explore the widespread sights.

    Tourist Activities around Otago Peninsula

    The harbour side of Otago Peninsula has a pleasant micro-climate, facing the northern sun and being sheltered from the predominant southerly wind. The southern side of the peninsula is more windswept and rugged.

    Walks around the peninsula are very popular, offering great views and some spectacular sights. Dozens of short walks range from 5-45 minutes, while there are several longer walks of 3-5 hours. Interesting sights include the sheer cliffs of “Lovers Leap” and “The Chasm”, “The Pyramids” rock formation and 100 metre sand dunes at Victory Beach.

    Guided tours are available by coach, 4WD, boat or sea-kayak that include visits to the Royal Albatross Colony, Yellow-eyed Penguin breeding grounds and seal colonies. Dolphins and, occasionally, whales may be seen. The Marine Studies Centre at Portobello has more wildlife information and exhibits, including an aquarium.

    Larnach Castle, built between 1881 and 1887, is one of few large-scale stately homes in New Zealand. It is regularly open to the public, along its gardens, which is one of few in New Zealand to have been awarded the title “Garden of International Significance”.

    The Peninsula is home to many artists and craftspeople, some of whom open their studios to the public. Especially at Portobello, there are galleries and craft shops that have a selection of local pottery, painting and other arts.

    Cafes and restaurants are to be found throughout the Peninsula, at Portobello and elsewhere.

    • Scroll down for Otago Peninsula accommodation & activity listings


    Otago Peninsula