Encounters Tour + Monarch Boat Cruise Tour

  • Mixing it up on the Taiaroa headland
    A 60 minutes wildlife cruise on the Monarch adds an extra dimension to an already unforgettable wildlife experience. This elephant seal is an occasional oportunity ....
Peninsula Encounters + Monarch Boat Cruise

Availability (Seasonal)

16 September – 20 March from $148


This tour option differs from our standard option by replacing our guided Albatross viewing with a one hour wildlife cruise aboard the MV ‘Monarch’ to view the albatross colony and other marine wildife.  The tour departs daily from Dunedin city in the mid-afternoon to the beautiful Otago Peninsula and its wildlife 'hotspots', catering to small groups and providing a glimpse into the world of tourism and conservation working in a symbiotic relationship. Providing absolutely unrivalled viewing of estuarine and marine wildlife.

Our knowledgeable guides deliver commentary of activity being viewed and visit isolated places inaccessible to others providing the best possible viewing of unique peninsula wildlife.  Our private conservation area ensures exclusivity with brilliant opportunities to photograph Hooker's Sea lions, Yellow-eyed Penguins, Blue Penguins, a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and other sea bird colonies.  At Wellers rock jetty you leave our tour to join the crew on the ‘Monarch’ for a 60 minute cruise before re-joining with your Elm wildlife tour guide for the remainder of our half day tour. The ‘Monarch’ option allows viewing of the entire Royal Albatross breeding area and usually allows viewing of Albatross flying or sitting on the ocean as well as seeing many other species who live and breed around the headland.

After re-joining our tour a further 25-30 other estuarine and marine bird species are seen during the experience around the bays and lagoons.

Within our conservation area close up unobtrusive viewing from beach locations and strategically placed observation hides is guaranteed.  Most days Albatross are seen flying at Taiaroa headland, with a greater opportunity from our conservation area strategic observation point to see many other pelagic sea bird species flying close, including numerous petrel and shearwater species, and up to five other Albatross species are regularly seen and identified.

Average Duration

Summer 6-6.5 hours, Winter 5-5.5 hours

Child policy

As this tour duration is approximately six hours, the tour does not suit all children. Children under five years are free of charge and require parent to provide carry pack for walks (tour not suitable for pushchairs/strollers etc)

Cancellation policy

Within 24 hours: NO REFUND (100% charge) or rebooking at no extra cost if availability permits.




Peninsula Encounters tours

Walking is required to access the private conservation area where Hookers Sea lions, NZ Fur seal breeding colony and Yellow eyed Penguins are located. The walk requires basic fitness as the terrain is hilly farm land, sandy beaches and stairways provide access the viewing hides.  Generally the two separate return sectors (down & up) each require approximately 15 minutes walking time because of the gradient. 

Cruiseship excursions and LITE tours

The visit to our private conservation area is usually the highlight of our tours and although we always provide 4x4 assistance in the normally dry conditions, on occaisions if it is very wet we cannot use the vehicle and walking up and down coastal hillside will be required to access the private conservation area where Sea lions, a Fur seal breeding colony and Penguins are located.The walk if required is depicted below.

Hill walk from beach (line depicts gradient)

Image depicting angle of climb from beach to vehicles

Access to conservation area

Access walk to seal breeding area


All tour options are an outdoor activity in a land where maritime weather prevails, the weather can change very quickly on the Southern coast at any time of the year. Always take warm and waterproof clothes.


Walking shoes or boots with heavy tread are recommended and necessary if conditions are wet or muddy.


Personal medicines etc. should be carried if required on all tours. Any medical condition which could potentially be a problem should be conveyed to your guide at the commencement of a tour. The terrain visited is not suitable for persons with walking disabilities and wheelchairs. Parents of infants should bring a backpack for their transport


Peninsula encounter tours 

Although food and drink is available through a small store in Portobello township and the Albatross centre cafe during the tour, we reccomend that participants bring their own snack and drink. 

Cruiseship passenger tours 

A light lunch is included in price

Wild Coast Explorer

Meals - as per previously agreed itinerary inclusions.

Catlins Encounters

This tour requires a good level of fitness as approximately 30% of the full day adventure is spent exploring beaches forests and other short walks to waterfalls, caves and other view points.  During a Catlins Encounters tour stops are made for snacks on the way,  we reccomend you bring your own packed lunch.


Flash We do not allow close flash photography of penguins as this startles them, however we recommend  that clients carry a range of film speeds to allow for the varied light encountered, 200 ASA up to 1600 ASA for dusk.  Click here for information regarding flash photography of birds and animals.   

Modern digital cameras and camcorders are well suited to the low light encountered in the evenings on our tours Take another look at our tour Options, the Peninsula Wildlife Tour, the Catlins Group tour or the exclusive Wild Coast Explorer - private option.


Peninsula Encounters tour departure times vary throughout the year (from 12:45pm mid winter to 3.30pm mid-summer) to coincide with changing animal activity and daylight hours. Departure times can be confirmed when making reservations. Participants will be collected from, and returned to any City or Peninsula accommodation, the Dunedin Visitor centre (26 Princes street) or arranged points on route. Tour duration is 5.5 - 6.5 hours depending on animal behaviours and season.
NOTE: Total wildlife tour (ETT) duration 8.5 hours with pickup time 1.20pm New Zealand Daylight time

SeasonPickup Times
FromUntilDunedin CityPortobello
15 November 14 February 3.30pm 4.15pm
15 February first Saturday in April 3pm 3.45pm
( DST - NZ daylight saving time ends on first Saturday in April )
first Sunday in April 30 April 1.30pm 2.15pm
1 May 31 August 1pm 1.45pm
1 September Last Saturday in September 1.30pm 2.15pm
( DST - NZ daylight saving time begins on last Sunday in September )
Last Sunday in September 14 November 3pm 3.45pm
NOTE: Pickups are usually from your accommodation or the Dunedin Visitor Centre (22 Princes street). Pickups can take up to 15 minutes from the pickup time shown above