Conserving penguins in New Zealand

Play a part in conserving penguins and their eggs from predators such as cats, dogs, stoats and weasels by building predator-proof nesting boxes.

About this conserving penguins project

The conservation work takes place on the Otago Peninsula. The Otago Peninsula together with its 12 mile long harbor, is the home of an abundance of magnificent wildlife.

These wildlife reserves near the town of Dunedin are home to colonies of Hoiho (Yellow-Eyed Penguins) and Little Blue Penguins. The Otago Peninsula also has breeding colonies of New Zealand fur seals and the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross. Many Seals live here as well as the Hooker Sea Lions and the occasional Sea Elephant. Your work is focused on the Yellow-Eyed Penguins.

Children are more than welcome and quite often there are up to 40 kids working on habitat projects at any given time.

Main volunteering activities:
  •  Track maintenance and habitat maintenance for the Yellow-Eyed penguins
Key information:
  • Volunteering work typically lasts for 2-3 days
  • Involves approx. 5-6 hours of helping each day
  • There is work to be done from September to May (the best time to travel to New Zealand)
  • This volunteering trip blends well with nearby sightseeing and relaxation activities
  • This project is also family-friendly, children from age 5 can participate
Nearby fun activities
  • Visit the Royal Albatross Center at Taiaroa Head

  • Discover the city of Dunedin which is often compared with Scotland’s Edinburgh

  • Explore the many beaches

  • Outdoor activities such as biking, paddleboarding, surfing, walking, fishing, sailing and golf

Successes to date:

The site where the Penguin Colony now operates was previously a rock quarry and the presence of the penguins was seen by some as a nuisance. Members of the community, Department of Conservation, and Forest & Bird fought for the area to be set aside as a protected breeding area for the penguins. In 1993, following this success a penguin-monitoring programme began.

  • A rehabilitation facility caring for sick or injured penguins has been created
  • Penguins outside of the colony are monitored
  • Predators at a nearby Yellow-Eyed Penguin colony are also trapped
  • Education and advocacy programmes teach others about the importance of conservation
  • An underpass underneath a local road has been constructed to allow penguins to cross safely
This project is for you if:
  • You want to help conserve endangered penguins
  • You are passionate about the environment and wildlife
  • You can handle cool weather and rain
  • You would like an experience that has a tangible outcome
  • You are happy rolling up your sleeves and getting involved

Suggested Conserving Penguins Itinerary

Penguins and Paradise – 15 Days

Example Price: US$17,990 per adult

This adventure not only enables you to bond as a family and help conserving penguins; you also get to be in awe at the splendor of the South Island: charming Christchurch, encountering whales and dolphins, kayaking in the clear waters of Abel Tasman, take a heli flight up to hike on a glacier, fly, hike and jet boat, explore Queenstown, and fly to Milford Sound…all in luxury.

Trip Highlights

  • Securing the future of blue penguins by protecting their habitats from predators
  • Spot whales by helicopter
  • Spot dolphins… even swim with them
  • Cruise and kayak in Abel Tasman National Park
  • Fly, hike and jet boat near Wanaka
  • Heli flight to Milford Sound and glaciers
  • Luxury lodges and superb food and wine

Price Includes

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Expert local guides
  • Meals as specified (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • Volunteering costs
Note: Price excludes international flights

Sample Day by Day

    Day 1: Arrive Christchurch, met at airport, transfer to your coastal eco-luxury Hapuku Lodge in Kaikoura (D)

    Day 2: Heli-flight spotting whales, then boat trip to see or swim with huge dolphin pods in afternoon (B, L,D)

    Day 3: Drive through Marlborough and Nelson to Split Apple Retreat (B,L,D)

    Day 4: Kayak, hike and cruise in your private boat in Abel Tasman National Park – full day (B,L,D)

    Day 5: Drive down to Hokitika, stay at Rimu Lodge (B,D)

    Day 6: Transfer to Franz Josef, heli-hike on a glacier, stay at Te Waonui Forest Retreat (B,L,D)

    Day 7: Flight, hike and jet boat ride; drive on to Wanaka, stay at Silverpine Lodge (B,D)

    Day 8: Drive to Queenstown via Arrowtown, stay at Matakauri Lodge (B,D)

    Day 9: Heli-flight to Milford Sound and glacier landing. Then enjoy other activities, such as bungee jump, wine tasting, jet boat ride, lake cruise, Lord of the Rings 4WD tour (B,D)

    Day 10: Free day in Queenstown (B,D)

    Day 11: Drive to Dunedin, stay at The Ebb (B,D)

    Day 12-13: Help maintain penguin habitats (B,L,D)

    Day 14: Drive to Christchurch via Moeraki Boulders, stay at The George (B)

    Day 15: Transfer to the airport and fly out (B)
Note: This is a sample itinerary only; we delight in crafting it to your exact requirements

Note – this is purely a sample itinerary, designed to give you a flavour of the country, local volunteering projects, and nearby sightseeing activities. We delight in crafting trips to your exact preferences. Inclusions and exclusions may vary accordingly. You can customize this trip to suit your specific requirements, in fact any aspect of the itinerary can be altered, from excursions to accommodation.

Here are some suggestions to customize this itinerary:

  • Take an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound
  • Hike one of the ‘Great Walks’ and stay in comfortable lodges
  • Explore the Marlborough wine country
  • Spot kiwi birds in the daytime on Stewart Island
  • Stay in the mountains at a lodge accessible only by helicopter
  • Go skiing (July to October)
  • Head to the North Island for geysers, beaches and more wine

Discover more about New Zealand >>

If you like this adventure then go ahead and share on social media.