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best port for NZ animal viewing?

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We will be cruising NZ in early December. Really want to be outside and seeing as much of the animals and nature of NZ. We are not bus people, we want to be up close and on our feet.  Our ports are Dunedin, Akaroa, Marlborough, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga. Of these ports which would be the best to see the penguins, seals and birds that are native to the NZ area? And any recommendations of tours that get you off the bus and out and about? Or boat excursions?

 

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In Dunedin look for a tour that covers the Royal Albatross Sanctuary where you might be lucky to see the albatross, and the Penguin Place where you'll see penguins and possibly seals (possibly with sheep grazing around them).

 

Also when entering Milford Sound look for seals on a big rock on the port side just inside the entrance.

 

Akaroa has Swim with Dolphins tours.

 

I've heard good reports about Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington but haven't been there myself.

 

Sorry but I can't recommend any specific tours as we usually just catch up with friends and family in NZ but a search here, port by port, should give you some good recommendations.

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We had two fantastic wildlife tours in December 2018. 

 

In Akaroa, we went kayaking and saw many seals and blue penguins:

https://www.pohatu.co.nz/Sea+Kayaking.html

 

In Dunedin, we were fortunate to see the Royal Albatross, fur seals, sea lions, and a rare mated pair of Yellow-Eyed Penguins with this company:

https://www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz/our-tours/peninsula-encounters/encounters-tour

 

I highly recommend both of the above-mentioned tour companies.

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On our Jan '19 cruise, for Akaroa & Dunedin (where we had been previously) we focused on wildlife tours.

 

Similar to epixx as above,

 

in Akaroa we did tour with Pohatu Tours, but we did the 4WD tour as here:

www.pohatu.co.nz/Scenic+Nature+Tours.html

 

In Dunedin we went with Russ of Tourworks on their Mainland Peninsula Tour 

www.tourworks.co.nz/tours/dunedin-peninsula-tour/

 

Both of these were great & we thoroughly recommend them.

 

 

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