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Pohatu Penguins 1 Walking down the track to the Light House Walk up the hill from the Light House Hand feeding Penguins Pohatu Reserve View of Pohatu Farm House Pohatu Penuins Akaroa Sheep on the Farm Walkers and views Penguins x 2 Pohatu Sheep baby Blue Penguin in nest box

4WD Scenic Nature Tours

Get up close the wildlife on the Peninsula

Pohatu is the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Learn how owners Francis and Shireen Helps have worked over the last two decades to protect these White-flippered Penguins, Canterbury's own variant of the Australasian Little Penguin. A good level of fitness is required.

AKA-6 | 4.00 hrs | Adults NZ $99.00 | Children NZ $71.50


You will see

  • A working sheep farm
  • Akaroa and Banks Peninsula
  • Great Scenery
  • Great variety of native birds
  • Penguin monitoring during penguin breeding season
  • Penguins and sheep
  • The Akaroa Head Reserve and lighthouse
  • View the Banks Peninsula Tree Weta

After meeting you at the wharf in Akaroa we start with a scenic drive to the Akaroa Heads Lighthouse Reserve at the very eastern tip of the Banks Peninsula. We stop along the way for photos and time to enjoy the stunning views as we rise up to cross the rim of this huge crater [Banks Peninsula being an extinct volcano] and then head down the steep track to the Light House and views from the top of the stunning cliffs.

You can join us on the walk down to the lighthouse, but this does require a good level of fitness and good walking shoes [especially the walk back up], or you may wait at the vehicle and just enjoy the views from there.

We have both a fine weather and a wet weather options, so if the day does not look too promising, don't worry as we have it covered.

We then retrace the track back up and over what is one of the highest passes on Banks Peninsula as we traverse along the summit road and then down into Flea Bay, location of the Pohatu Marine Reserve with plenty of stops for photos.

You will experience the spectacular and dramatic scenery from the crater rim of ancient Akaroa Volcano to volcanic coastal cliffs and enjoy the beautiful view over Akaroa Harbour and the endless Pacific Ocean!

Please note that this is a working farm, where the owners invite you to see and learn the progress they have made over many years running their conservation project for protection of penguins. The adult Penguins are at sea during the day hunting, so you will only see the Penguin chicks [depending on the season] in the nesting boxes, plus any baby chicks that are being hand reared by the Pohatu team.

New Zealand Fur Seals, lizards and other insects may also be seen as well as the beautiful red beech forest of Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve that also has five species of the iconic New Zealand tree fern.

Leaving the Pohatu Reserve we rejoin the vehicles for the scenic 30 minute drive back to Akaroa.

  • Collection and drop off at the wharf
  • Experienced guide
  • Suitable four wheel drive transport
  • Tea or coffee and a muffin snack at the farm house
  • Don't forget your camera!
  • Good walking shoes or boots with good grip soles that can cope with a bit of mud in wet conditions. Please note the track can be demanding for some and can be slippery in wet conditions in the heavy penguin traffic areas we visit.

    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 and some footwear can be provided for those who have inadequate footwear.
This the sign you are looking for in Akaroa, not always the handsome frenchmen


  • This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users or those without a good level of fitness [unless you do not take the light house walk].

Standard Tour Schedule Options

      start time     end time
Day tour 12:00 16:00
Note: Start and end times may be adjusted
to suit ships ETA or ETD in port

Standard Tour Charges

Adult price     NZ $99.00
Child price (5 to 12 yrs)     NZ $71.50

    What are the facilities like at the Pohatu Reserve?

This is a typical "back country" working farm, so while adequate, please do not expect 5 star luxury "rest rooms".

    Where are the refreshments served?

If the weather is fine then usually in the farm house garden, in wet weather there is an undercover area that is used.

    If I do have difficulty walking can I still do this tour?

To get the most from the tour you really should have a good level of fitness as the walk down to the light house [and back up !] is quite a challenge, or you can wait at the vehicle if you do not want to do this. The Penguin Reserve does not involve as much walking, but the ground can be wet and soggy when raining.

    While I be able to see the Penguins up close?

During the breeding season the baby Penguins can be viewed in their nest boxes [the adults are at sea hunting] and also any birds being hand reared at the reserve can be viewed during their feeding periods.

    What other wild life may we see on this trip?

You may also see New Zealand Fur Seals on the rocks and in the sea at Flea bay.

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What You Say

What you say ...

We had a great day with Shireen. This was more than just a tour. We saw a little bit of New Zealand, saw penguins and their nesting boxes, and even learned a little of the history of sheep farming in the area. Shireen's dedication and work to save the penguins of the area is very special. The tour also include muffins and beverages made by Shireen. Not to be missed experience.

What You Say