Pohatu Penguins


14 Rankers Reviews

6 Face-to-Face

18 Bird Watching

19 Sea Kayaking

8 Penguin Watching

8 Banks Peninsula

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2 white flippered penguin chicks ready to go back at sea


Come on a tour to some of the most stunning back road of Banks peninsula and discover the area's rich history, native fauna and flora an Pohatu's unique penguin conservation program. We have over 1200 breeding pairs of Little penguins.

Pohatu Penguins is a family-run business with a long standing history of protecting the Korora (Little Penguin). The colony survival is accredited to Shireen and Francis Helps whom have cared for the penguins for 30+ years.

When the Helps first began their conservation work the penguins faced massive challenges that threatened their very existence. These challenges included predation via introduced predators such as dogs, cats, ferrets and stoats, gill net fishing and other human disturbances. Colonies around Banks Peninsula declined at an alarming rate and most disappeared altogether. Through predator trapping, monitoring, rehabilitation and immense dedication the Helps have stabilized the Pohatu Colony - and it continues to grow!

In addition to their penguin conservation work the Helps family have also, for many years, protected native forests and other endemic species. Their dedication is an inspiring example of what one family can do and they have won many awards for their work in penguin and habitat conservation and also helped found the award-winning Wildside Conservation Project. To this day, the Helps family continue to be leaders in conservation!

Their efforts continue to be fully self-funded via Pohatu Penguins’ tours so when purchasing a tour you help our Little Korora!

Join one of our tour and learn of the conservation work we do to save this endangered species. See penguins up close, feed our friendly pet sheep, spot many other native wildlife and take photos of our beautiful coastal scenery, getting to have a real unique kiwi experience.

From 2 hour Nature tours to our 24 hour Pohatu package including accommodation or for the more adventurous our sea-kayaking safari seeing a seal colony and other marine wildlife, we are with you from the beginning to the end.

All tours leave from our office in the historic French village of Akaroa.
You will be transported by 4WD mini-vans over the hills of Akaroa extinct volcano to many view points along the way for photo opportunities. You will stand at 700 meters altitude on the crater rim where you will have a 360 degres view from the entire Akaroa harbor to the endless beauty of the Pacific Ocean all around.

Monitoring of penguins nesting sites (in season) will allow you to get up close and personnel giving you a very good opportunity for photos.

For more information visit our website: www.pohatu.co.nz and if you have any questions feel free to get in touch by e-mail or phone (details on our “Contact us” page).


Feature Value Info


South IslandCanterburyBanks Peninsula


  • Bird Watching
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Penguin Watching

Operating Season And Hours

We are operating all year long.


Showing 13 reviews of 14.

A. Mullins 's avatar

A. Mullins

Ranking: 9/10

The evening walk: Pohatu thoroughly prioritises the penguins. A whole-hearted conservation effort that is making a difference. Their monetary input comes solely from tourists. It’s a gorgeous set-up. See the penguin houses, some of which have penguins in them. The roofs are lifted so that they can be monitored for food status and hydration. As a tourist, this means you get to see them tucked up and snuggling in together. Binoculars are provided to view them coasting in groups together, waiting for night to fall so they can come up on the beach. We could not see them come on to the beach , as our presence would have disrupted them too much, ad they were catching our scent on the wind. A brilliant tour, with guides that thoroughly respect the penguins, as well as a great cause. Support the penguins by supporting this group!

Reviewed 9 months ago

From DK's avatar

From DK

Ranking: 9/10

Enjoyed the trip very much

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Pohatu Penguins is open for business… Visit Website …now's your chance to take a closer look.

Susanne's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Amazing visionaries and nature lovers have created the penguin reserve. So much true love and care for nature. Eco tourism at its best.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Pohatu Penguins responds:

Hi Susanne,

Thank you very much for your nice review.
You have very nicely explained who we are and why we operate; for the love of Nature and sharing our history. Proving that anyone can do something with the right motivation.
I hope you have enjoyed the rest of your time in Akaroa.

Rosieposie8's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

We spent two nights in cottage in idyllic location and got to see lots of pengiuns up close and coming up the rocks in the evening. Kids really enjoyed it all too. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. Whilst kayaking we saw dolphins and seals too, again they came really close to us so it was fantastic. Overall very good value trip and felt pretty isolated and wild but only a short trip from Christchurch.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Philip Schumann's avatar

Philip Schumann


Ranking: 10/10

Had a 48 hour package, well worth the money, clean and nice beach, good penguin tour, saw some in the 'get well' station and wild ones at dusk. Little Blue and Yellow Eyed. Great guided sea kayaking, saw penguins and seals! The bush walk is very very beautiful with a waterfall and swimming hole.

Reviewed over 6 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Markus Eckert's avatar

Markus Eckert


Ranking: 10/10

Good value for money. Great scenic drive, very beautiful bush walk, clean and spacious, great penguin tour (saw Little Blue, Yellow Eyed in care and in the wild), great guide sea kayaking tour, beautiful surroundings.

Reviewed over 6 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Richard Lechevallier's avatar

Richard Lechevallier


Ranking: 10/10

A lot of explanations about penguins and also about flowers and animals and landscape.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in November 2011

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pepette31's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Really exceeded our expectations - the conservation work done by Shireen's family on their land is remarkable and should be an example to other NZ land owners. The drive to Flea's Bay is incredibly scenic and we enjoyed great views of the little penguins AND one yellow-eyed penguin (without forgetting the seals).

Reviewed over 9 years ago

Russ White's avatar

Russ White

United States

Ranking: 10/10

Package tour plus extra night was just what we were looking for. Great viewing of penguins in the widl. Quiet accommodation, clean and friendly.

Reviewed about 10 years ago

allesca's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

A real privilege to get a close-up insight and understanding of the work being done to protect these endangered penguins and to see them in their natural habitat with a minimum of human interference. It's all about the penguins.

Reviewed over 10 years ago

Pohatu Penguins is open for business… Visit Website …now's your chance to take a closer look.

Duncan Watson's avatar

Duncan Watson

New Zealand

Ranking: 9/10

This is a true nature trip to see penguins in their natural environment. Professionally run and knowledgeable friendly staff. Picked up promptly from Akaroa tourist information centre - I recommend this rather than driving your own car on the steep gravel roads. The bus is driven carefully so although the roads are steep you can enjoy the views without worry. Seeing the penguins does require patience. A bonus was seeing a Yellow-Eyed Penguin - the majority of the penguins are the small cute Blue variety. There is no guarantee what time or how many penguins will come past the hide, but it is worth the wait enjoying the scenery and sunset in the wilderness.

Reviewed over 11 years ago

penguinsearcher's avatar


United States

Ranking: 10/10

For a fantastic overnight opportunity, jump on the Akaroa Shuttle outside the Christchurch Visitor Centre that'll drop you at the Akaroa Visitor Centre where you'll be met by Shireen Helps at 12:30.

You'll be taken to their amazing property; home of Pohatu Penguin (pohatu.co.nz), and allowed to settle in to a rustic little cabin for your 24hr adventure. My cabin slept 3 and had electricity and shower. Grab something to heat in the cabin's microwave for dinner at the store next to the Akaroa Visitor

If you're already in Akaroa, they'll come get you in the afternoon then take you back after dark.

Anyway, I was taken on a great nature tour via 4WD, then we hiked out to where the penguins are. I was SO happy to see Yellow-eyed and Little penguins -
hundreds of Little in Flea Bay and many up on land in little burrows. Shireen and Francis are SO knowledgeable about the penguins! Their land has the largest Little colony on mainland NZ and they are so successful at caring for them the colony is growing at a wonderful rate - sadly, something that can't be said for other colonies around NZ. Both these folks are so passionate about NZ, Akaroa, and the penguins - but not so ridiculously fanatic to prevent all photography (even without flash!) as other places. The next morning we went in search of penguins again.

Now, there is some hiking involved, but sure-footedness is more important than stamina. I'm terribly out of shape and I made it with minimal
slipping and sliding. There are 'paths', but you're in natural habitat, so don't expect a moving sidewalk. Wear good hiking boots or trainers/sneakers.

Do the overnight deal or even just go for the afternoon/evening – but my suggestion is do NOT miss the trip if you’re headed for NZ.

Reviewed over 11 years ago

zinnemily's avatar


United States

Ranking: 10/10

This penguin tour exceeded all of our expectations. Not only did we see white-finned penguins, but we also saw at close range yellow-eyed penguins and little blue penguins. The largest colony of white-finned penguins in New Zealand is on the tour guide's own land. Her family's commitment to protecting and preserving these creatures and their habitat is inspiring. Her ability to spot the penguins in low light is incredible. She also is an amazing driver on narrow and steep roads.

Reviewed almost 12 years ago