Planning a trip to Ortago peninsula in rental car from Dunedin. Just wondering how easy is it view birds, penguins etc without taking a tour? Best spots? Thanks very much.
Sorry you need to take a tour as most areas are on PP. Obviously you will see plenty of birds on the wing but without a tour you won't get to the Albatross breeding areas. Local knowledge or a tour is needed for the penguins too. Seals and sea lions are all along the coastal headlands and beaches, never get too close and never, never get between the ocean and the critter.
Oh well a tour it is then! Appreciate your advice very much - especially not standing in way of the escape route.
Visited the Albatross Sanctuary today & not worth the $50 tour price. There are 4 albatrosses each sitting on an egg & was only told later (not by them) that you are unlikely to see one flying as they rarely leave the nest. You can walk around the area for free & see lots of different birds & seals. The views are great.
I must agree, I have never been tempted to pay for an Albatross Sanctuary tour. The only time I know I saw an albatross was when an Elm Tour guide pointed it out (from the carpark outside the Sanctuary). I know they are much much bigger than seagulls and this is obvious once one is pointed out to you but from a distance it is hard.
There is a free penguin viewing area just below the albatross car park but I have never been there in the evening. An Elm Tour will take you to private areas with penguins, seals and sea lions (and may be able to point out an albatross on the wing). I have often seen seals and sea lions (and once a penguin) while hiking around my home town but it is a bit hit and miss.
We have spent 30 hours on Doubtful Sound last week but didn’t see an albatross - that we knew of anyway! We’re not too fussed about them if rather sparse and appreciate your kind replies so will stick to the yellow eyed birds instead! About to head into Dunedin to get advice about them and the Gorge train trip. Weather bit cloudy here!Edited: 21 November 2017, 02:44
Likewise we never saw an albatross on our overnight on Doubtful Sound - maybe it's only at certain times of year?
Anyway, the Elm tour is excellent. We did it with the Monarch cruise around the headland as well and did see albatross on the wing and also at a distance on their nests (less impressive).
Maybe of little use to the OP but if you're really interested in albatross then the Albatross Encounter at Kaikoura is the thing to do - you get within touching distance of them (but don't if you want to keep a full set of fingers).
Yes we saw lots more albatross on our whale watching trip at Kaikoura - so many thanks for your advice John. We did visit the albatross centre at Ortago and saw one. Was fun them flying along side our catamaran on the whale search trip! Great country here - we’ve loved every minute of our 6 weeks and so sad to be leaving in 3 days.