There are a couple of tour options for visiting the Pohatu reserve, some involve kayaking and others just a hike through the penguin colonies. We were unable to do the kayak trip due to inclement weather, but the hike was absolutely amazing.
The tour consists of about a 30 minute drive from the Akaroa tourist information center (in the heart of the town) to the Pohatu reserve. On a nice day, the drive alone is worth the cost of the ticket. The views from the crest of the volcano rim were breathtaking. The hike and viewing on the preserve lasted about 2 hours. We were fitted with camoflage and provided with binoculars. By the time we left, the sun had already set and we saw alot of other wildlife on the dark drive back to Akaroa including numerous hares and rabbits and a couple of bush tailed possums.
The reserve is managed by Shireen and Francis Helps... Shireen was our guide and she is very friendly and knowledgable. According to Shireen, the best times for penguin viewing are from September through November and those are also slow months for tourists in Akaroa, so they're not very crowded. We were there in April and the viewing was quite good. We saw hundreds of penguins swimming in the water and around 50 on the rocks. We also saw two of the bigger yellow-eyed penguins.
Highly recommended for anyone in the Christchurch area!
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