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“A Fabulous Tour with a bit of everything” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Back to Nature Tours

Back to Nature Tours
Book In Advance
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USD 138.90*
and up
Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Back to Nature Tours conducts nature based tours of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, Catlins and Stewart Island. Join us on one of our world famous cruise ship excursions that include Dunedin's best tour attractions, scenery and wildlife. We also organize private tours for individuals or groups that are tailor made to make your experience in Dunedin one you will never forget. We are a Qualmark Endorsed New Zealand owned business - Qualmark is New Zealand tourism's official quality assurance organisation, providing a trusted guide to quality travel experiences. We are Department of Conservation Permit holders and have a Marine Mammal permit - allowing us to guide visitors legally in some of New Zealand’s most remote and beautiful locations.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“A Fabulous Tour with a bit of everything”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 March 2012

We chose this tour after looking at several others for the Dunedin area. We were specifically looking for a combined tour that include the sights of the city, Larnach Castle and some wildlife viewing on the Otago Peninsula.

We purchased the option of visiting the Royal Albatross Centre but declined the inside tour of Larnach Castle.

We were met by our tour guide Chris as soon as we departed the ship. Chris is a very nice young man. He was a naturalist and was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna we viewed on our tour. He also had a great sense of humour. He was a happy combination of a New Zealander with a Scottish background.

The tour was conducted in a very nice 10 passenger mini-bus and we had a full group. The weather that day was not the greatest as it was very overcast with occasional periods of rain but our tour was so good that even that didn't spoil our tour.

We got to see all the important sights in the city including stops at the University of Otago, Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the Guinness Book of Records and the Dunedin Train station. We drove through the Octagon on the way out of town.

We stopped at Larnach Castle and Chris gave us a tour of the botanical garden describing the local plants which was very interesting. Be warned if Chris offers you to taste one of the plants. Because it was raining we decided at the last minute to sign up for the inside tour of the castle. It was okay but I don't think it was worth the money. The view from the castle turret would have been terrific but it was so cloudy you couldn't see anything.

We had a great lunch stop at a restaurant in Portobello. Chris recommended the fish and chips and he was spot on as the food was excellent.

We had two stops in the afternoon on the Otago Peninsula. The Penguin Preserve was great. They have a series of tunnels dug into the beach so you can view the rare and very shy Yellow-Eyed Penguins. The penguins were nesting and we were able to see some babies too. There was also a walk along the coastal hills here where we up close to some fur seals.

Our last stop was at the Royal Albatross Centre. If you didn't sign up for the tour, Chris took you to a spot where you had a good chance to see the Northern Royal Albatross. The tour was quite pricey but well worth the money. The reason it is better is because it takes you to a much higher location and you can expect to see the albatross closer up.

All in all this was a terrific tour. I strongly recommend this tour as it was first class all the way and a whole lot of fun.

Visited December 2011
2 Thank Gary U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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109 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Fairfax Station, VA
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Expert Dunedin/Otago Sampler”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 March 2012

Two couples traveling together arrived on the Diamond Princess on Jan 27, 2012. We had pre-arranged with Chris via the Internet to join his tour. He was awaiting us at Port Chalmers, right on time as promised. There were 11 of us in his clean van, and we filled the day with what I'm sure is his standard tour. It was perfect and one of the highlights of our 3 weeks Down Under.

He first took us to the Signal Hill overlook to get the big overview of the city, Baldwin Street ("The Steepest Street in the World", a claim I won't dispute after climbing to the top), the University of Otago, the rail station (excellent! Be sure to check out the Art Association on the second floor . Chris warned us not to be tempted to wander over to the Cadbury factory because it would surely foul up his trip timing), and then on to Larnach Castle. He allowed about an hour to wander the beautiful grounds but did not include the separate entry to the Castle interior (you can admire the beautiful staircase by just looking through the glass of the side french door.)

We next drove further out onto the beautiful Otago penisula, admiring our ship docked across the Otago Harbour. We stopped at a hotel in Portobello for an excellent mid-day meal (included.) Interestingly, everyone in our group ordered fish and chips which proved to be a brilliant choice.

From there, we drove over the spine of the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula with spectacular views and the Yellow-eyed Penguin tour with its own specialist guides. The tour was fascinating but there were not many penguins to actually see. Apparently most of the adults are out looking for food during the day. The tour guides admitted that their breeding population has been declining, most likely due to the birds moving to the next beach over where human encroachment is strictly controlled (smart birds.)

Our next and last stop was at the Royal Albatross Centre on the tip of the peninsula. We had pre-paid (through Chris) for the guided tour up to the viewing building. It's glass enclosed with great views of lots of birds of several types. The winds were fairly strong so we saw several albatrosses soaring. I would recommend at least a 200 mm lens for cameramen. My 55mm could not quite capture what my eyes saw.

From there we had about a half- hour drive back through downtown and along the northern shore of Otago Harbour back to Port Chalmers. We did not have enough time left to wander the port stores, so we felt we had had a full day.

Chris is quite knowledgeable and personable and delivered a fabulous experience. When we return to Dunedin, we'll hire him to give us a custom tour. Highly recommended.

Visited January 2012
2 Thank DaveFales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Formby England
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Dunedin & Otago Peninsula”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 January 2012

Just returned from a cruise around New Zealand. Prior to leaving UK booked a tour with 'Back to Nature Tours' via the internet. What a fantastic day out facilitated by Chris, many highlights to the day but the main one's for us were visiting the Yellow Eyed Penguins reserve and seeing the Albatross's. Chris made everyone feel very welcome and showed us so many sights in the area, he made everything very interesting and went out of his way to show us as much as possible in so short a time together with giving excellent answers to everyone's questions. Thanks Chris and 'Back to Nature Tours' for a great day out we will never forget the experience.

Visited November 2011
3 Thank Freshfielders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Rosa, California
Level Contributor
38 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Highly Recommended Day Tour in Dunedin”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2012

December 2011 we were on a HAL cruise around new Zealand that stopped in Dunedin on Christmas Day. Many attractions/tours/shops were not operating. I had emailed Chris of Back to Nature Tours about possibly offering something on Christmas Day and he came through with flying colors! Fabulous tour. Chris was easy to communicate with before the trip. He picked us up at the doc right on time and spent the day showing us the city as well as nature areas. We got great photos of penguins on the beach as well as in the preserve. I highly recommend Back to Nature Tours.

Visited December 2011
2 Thank Janet W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maitland, Australia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“If you want a snapshot tour of Dunedin in one day, this is the one!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 November 2011

My husband and I recently cruised on our maiden voyage to New Zealand aboard the Dawn Princess. Our first port stop was in Dunedin and was no doubt the most memorable of our trip thanks to Chris Roberts from Back to Nature Tours.

We booked our day tour prior to leaving Australia and the communication from Chris was very timely and reassuring with all the details.

Upon disembarkion of the ship, we were greeted by Chris and another couple that we had previously met on the ship.

What truly sets this tour in the class of distinction is Chris's ability to deliver a great depth of local knowledge, across a diverse array of sites and attractions visited, all in the space of a day and still maintain a very relaxed itinerary for us all to enjoy. And this is the beauty and great advantage of travelling in a small group.

We enjoyed discovering the great architecture of buildings such as the Railway Station, churches and University. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and capture these images on your cameras during your tour. We also visited Baldwin Street and then a chance to have a browse at the markets at the Octagon.

Lanarch Castle is well worth a visit just to ponder around the gorgeous colourful gardens with their many scenic viewpoints.

After a deliciously scrumptious lunch at the Portobello Hotel we then drove to the Otago Coast for an afternoon discovering wildlife in their natural habitat including yellow eyed penguins and sea lions.

In conclusion, after a very enjoyable, educative day and many laughs along the way, Chris returned us to the ship comfortably in time to enjoy the sounds of the Taieri Pipe Band as our ship departed Dunedin. We will certainly return one day sooner rather than later!

Visited October 2011
4 Thank Angela O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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