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Surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, Oamaru boasts elegant 19th century architecture and a host of experiences to discover, including one of the country’s oldest public gardens and two penguin colonies.

Located just three hours south of Christchurch, on South Island’s east coast, Oamaru is a lovely harbour town, home to a colony of little blue penguins. Just before sunset is the best time to view them when they, and also yellow-eyed penguins, come ashore to roost.

Many of Oamaru's attractions housed within elegant Victorian buildings – reminders of a prosperous past.  The days of yesteryear are reflected in an unhurried pace of life and heritage modes of transport, such as the penny-farthing bicycle and steam trains, and the many steam punk exhibits throughout the town. Whilst a fascinating snapshot of Oamaru’s botanical history can be seen in the public gardens.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: little blue penguin, yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand fur seal, royal albatross, New Zealand sealion
  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Kiwis & Whales Galore: South Island Self-drive

This self-drive of New Zealand’s South Island showcases dramatic scenery, from sandy beaches to picturesque snow-capped mountains. Highlights include cetacean-rich Kaikoura, the Otago Peninsula - home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin - and Stewart Island for southern brown kiwis.

  • When to go: Sep-May
  • Duration inc. flights: 23 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge

Built in 1889, Pen-y-bryn Lodge is reputed to be the largest single-storey timber building in Australasia. The unique property, ideally located for visiting Oamaru’s remarkable little blue penguin colony, has five distinct guestrooms decorated with period antiques reflecting its Victorian heritage.