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“Great Unique Experience”

Pohatu Penguin Habitat
Ranked #7 of 29 Tours in Akaroa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Pohatu penguins is a family owned business that offers 4WD safaris trip to the Largest Little penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Conservation based tours include: -Evening penguin tours -Scenic nature safaris (2 or 4 hours) -Sea-kayaking with seals and other wildlife -24 or 48 hour package including accommodation in the middle of the penguin colony
Reviewed May 29, 2013

Our kayaking experience was nearly cancelled due to the strong winds, but my boyfriend apparently looked strong enough to paddle the elements. We got out on the water and kayaked around the bay, looking at seals and penguins on the rocky shore. Then as we were turning around at the mouth of the bay we almost paddled into two little penguins fishing. It was so exciting to see the penguins fishing and playing. I will never forget it. We managed to get some priceless photos, and then returned back into the bay. Despite me having a sudden onset of unexplainable sea sickness, and the kayaking being cut a little short due to the weather, it was an incredible experience. Instead we had some time left over for a cuppa at the farm and some time to see the penguin holes. The guides were very personable lovely people which made the experience extra unique. I highly recommended!

1  Thank Claire G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"nesting boxes"
in 35 reviews
"penguins coming"
in 16 reviews
"conservation work"
in 23 reviews
"blue penguins"
in 64 reviews
"wheel drive"
in 9 reviews
"overnight stay"
in 10 reviews
"new zealand"
in 64 reviews
"friendly sheep"
in 11 reviews
"cute penguins"
in 6 reviews
"sea kayaking"
in 21 reviews
"french guide"
in 6 reviews
"no electricity"
in 6 reviews
"baby penguins"
in 12 reviews
"banks peninsula"
in 32 reviews
"photo stops along the way"
in 5 reviews
"nature tour"
in 15 reviews
"eco tourism"
in 5 reviews
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378 - 382 of 466 reviews

Reviewed May 11, 2013

Our Penguin / Nature trip got off to a bad start when we turned up to the office to find nobody at home. After waiting a bit we called and it turned out they had forgotten that we were booked for today!
Despite this it was an excellent tour despite the weather and a great insight into the fantastic conservation work that they do. Highly recommended if in Akaroa.

1  Thank EvilParrot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2013

We stayed overnight at Pohatu Penguin Habitat on the last day/night of our trip to NZ. We met Kevin in town and he helped us load our luggage into his van and took us to a safe area to leave our vehicle overnight. He was very friendly, informative, and made many stops along the way for us to get out and take photos. The Akaroa area is absolutely stunning, a postcard view in every direction. We arrived around 3pm to our cottage. We opted for the cottage with the fireplace/candles/no electricity. WE LOVED IT! It was so charmingly decorated and I felt like I was in Girl Scouts again, making a fire, etc. Around 5pm, Shirlee took us for a walk out to see the penguins. We stopped along the way to the bay and saw dozens of penguins in their little nesting boxes. We hiked to the look out spots and saw several penguins already on shore and more coming in like little torpedoes through the water. That night we had such a wonderful time sitting around the fire and telling stories with our 4 yr old. It was such a nice change of pace to have no TV, cell phone, or IPAD occupying our time. We got to spend quality time together which I will always cherish. My son insisted that he wanted to sleep in the loft, but I warned him there were geckos. He didn't believe me at first. We went upstairs with a flashlight and sure enough-GECKO!!!! His eyes were the size of quarters, and he decided he would sleep downstairs with us! Morning came around and we met Shirlee for a kayak trip around the bay. We saw numerous blue penguins and a yellow eyed penguin, which was one that had been in rehabilitation and was doing very well on his own. To see the joy on her face when she saw this yellow eyed penguin doing so well was priceless. Shirlee truly loves each and every one of these penguins and she has worked hard and dedicated her life to their survival. We also saw numerous seals while we were kayaking, from adult large males to the babies suckling their mothers. After our kayak ride, we all enjoyed nice, long, and hot showers from the interesting outdoor shower system they have come up with. (By the way, my son got a kick out of using the outhouse too)! Thank you for sharing this sanctuary with us. The memories will last forever!

4  Thank MTmama2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2013

This was without doubt the best tour we did in New Zealand. We were lucky enough to be the only 2 on the tour which meant we had lovely Shireen, (tour guide and business owner), all to ourselves. What a fabulous lady. Shireen is a very skilled and knowledgeable tour guide and her passion for the land, her home and the penguins shone through. The conservation work undertaken by Shireen and her family is outstanding and inspirational. We felt very lucky to have experienced this peaceful and beautiful part of New Zealand with Shireen.
It you want breathtaking scenery, a knowledgeable and passionate guide - and want to experience the real New Zealand in a very special way - I highly recommend Pohatu Penguins.

3  Thank Trudestar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 9, 2013

We booked the Pohatu Penguins "Scenic Nature Tour" for a Cruise Critic Roll Call private tour. We booked seats for thirteen and they brought two vans.

Shireen Helps, the co-owner of Pohatu Penguins, is a very special person. She was one of the two van drivers.

They use 4-wheel drive vans, and when you see where you travel, you clearly see that this is not for the family sedan!

We were first taken way up in the mountains where our cruise ship looked like a tiny toy boat anchored in Akaroa Harbor. She then took us to Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve, the site of the original lighthouse, and now the site of an automated light guiding ships into Akaroa Harbor. The scenery was spectacular.

Our next stop was Shireen's home. She lives "far away" over mountains, gravel roads, and steep declines with no guard rails, that make the ride an adventure in itself! She and her husband own over 1000 acres that go down to the sea near their home. The fields are absolutely beautiful - and would be even more beautiful had New Zealand not had the extended drought they have experienced this year. They are littered with over 1000 head of sheep that only occasionally are herded and brought in to be shorn.

Nothing fancy at Shireen's place. The laundry was hanging on the line when she took us around to see her feed a penguin that she has been rehabilitating (I've seen some comments on TripAdvisor that people didn't see penguins - they are advertised to be gone from "about" mid February to mid April - they don't have a calendar to follow! So we didn't expect to see any.). After feeding she took the little guy - in a pail - down to the water and carefully put him it. He swam around for several minutes so we could get our photos, and then casually walked up out of the water and stood by the pail, waiting for his return trip!

We then fed several of the sheep that Shireen keeps close to home, and that was followed by tea, coffee, soda, water and home made muffins that Shireen had baked the night before, all served in a simple bunkhouse. Again, nothing fancy, but everything was very "real". Shireen talked about the literally thousands of nesting pairs of penguins that they host each year in nesting boxes they have built and installed, and keep the penguins safe with a series of countless traps to keep the penguins natural enemies at bay.

Then the return trip over the mountains and precipices and inhaled screams as we bounded back along the guardrail-less gravel one-lane roads.

Normally, I would make a negative comment about the fact that the vans could really have had a car wash, or that the air-conditioning didn't work (windows did open!) and there was no P/A system. But that would mean comparing this adventure with a van trip around civilization and not out into the wilderness. Just the dusty drive from Shireen's home, especially in other that ideal weather, would yield a dirty van to start with!

No, this tour was something very special, and I think all our participants felt that. I'd do it again in a hearbeat, and you'll be missing a real experience on the Banks Peninsula if you don't take a ride with Shireen! Make a reservation - Shireen's vans meet each cruise ship, but it's first-come, first served and you wouldn't want to miss this....

3  Thank SabreSailor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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