Dunedin Wildlife Care Code Resources

Dunedin Wildlife Care Code

Dunedin’s visitor industry has launched a “Dunedin Wildlife Care Code” to help visitors care for the city’s unique and rare wildlife.

The code helps visitors to understand guidelines for viewing wildlife and to care for our environment.  Dunedin, recognised as the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand, with unrivalled viewing of sea lions, royal albatross and penguins is a magnet for thousands of tourists who come here to see wildlife in its natural habitat.

The code will help visitors to understand:

  • to keep a safe distance from penguins and sea lions
  • advice to not feed animals
  • rules around drones and camping
  • suggestions for how people can help the great work of Dunedin’s wildlife charities.


Dunedin Wildlife Care Code – Official Version, words to use.

Dunedin is home to rare and special wildlife.

Help us protect our penguins, sea lions and birds for future generations.

View wildlife with a commercial tour operator as this ensures respectful behaviour and limits wildlife disturbance.

Wildlife Care: Help protect Dunedin’s rare wildlife. Do not disturb, touch, feed or go too close to penguins, sea lions and seals. Keep dogs away as they can harm wildlife and prevent them from breeding.

Sea lions and other seals: New Zealand sea lions are rare and endangered, please view from a safe distance of at least 20m and do not disturb them. If you must pass them on the beach, keep as much distance as possible and do not loiter. They can move quickly, so back off if they react and do not block their path to water. They can bite!

Penguins: Yellow-eyed penguins are endangered and rare. Stay at least 50m away from yellow-eyed penguins as they are shy and easily stressed. Ensure penguins can’t see you. Don’t block penguins’ entry and exit from the water and never approach a nest. No flash photography or dogs.

Red-billed gulls. Do not feed or chase the seagulls as they are endangered and human food can kill them.

Drones: Use of drones is prohibited in many sensitive areas and can require a permit elsewhere. The important wildlife site of Taiaroa Head/Pukekura has a permanent restricted airspace. Any DOC reserve requires a permit, and it is an offence to fly drones within 150m of marine mammals (or 300m vertically above). For more information check the Dunedin City Council or DOC website.

Freedom Camping: There are designated freedom camping sites and holiday parks in Dunedin, please use them as $200 fines will apply for illegal camping.

Public amenities: Please keep Dunedin beautiful and clean by using public toilets and rubbish bins where provided or taking your refuse with you.  Smoking and fires are not advisable and often banned under seasonal restrictions.

Walking Tracks: Stay on the marked track as many cross private land. Keep yourself safe, within barriers and avoid damage to plants and breeding wildlife. Leave sheep alone.

Please report any sick or injured wildlife by calling: 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

Poaching is illegal, please report marine poaching by calling:  0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224)

Thank you for helping us to look after our precious wildlife.

Leave nothing but footprints…..take nothing but memories.

More Information

For more information on wildlife tours, freedom camping, public toilets or walking tracks please visit www.dunedinnz.com/visit or contact:

Dunedin iSITE | 50 The Octagon | Dunedin | 03 474 3300  | visitor.centre@dcc.govt.nz

For local drone use guidelines and permits, go to www.dunedin.govt.nz/drones and/or www.doc.govt.nz

The Dunedin Care Code was developed in recognition of the Tiaki Promise www.tiakinewzealand.com

Volunteer or Donate to Dunedin Wild and Conservations Charities

How you can help: Many wildlife charities including the Wildlife Hospital do great work in Dunedin to protect the unique and endangered local wildlife and habitats. You can aid them in many ways including with donations, volunteering and signing petitions to protect the environment.

Find out more at www.dunedinnz.com/wildlifecharities


This initiative sits under one of the Dunedin Destination Plan goals, which is to ‘sustain and enhance our natural and built environment for the benefit of residents and visitors’. Providing clear information on how to protect Dunedin’s wildlife and environment is an important and very necessary part of this.

DOC is a partner in the newly introduced Tiaki Promise which asks visitors to act as guardians to New Zealand on their visit, making a commitment to protect and preserve our nature. The Dunedin Wildlife Care code is an example of a community working together to help visitors understand how they can be good guardians”.
Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of TIA says “This is a fantastic initiative which contributes to the TIA Tourism Sustainability Commitment goal of ‘leading the world in sustainable tourism’. The code fulfils three of the sustainability commitments around educating visitors of behavioural expectations, contributing to ecological restoration initiatives, and businesses actively engaging with their visitors and communities on the importance of restoring, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s natural environment.


Dunedin Wildlife Care Code Working Group: Sophie Barker Chair (Otago Peninsula Trust), Athol Parks (Dunedin City Walks), Neil Harraway (Monarch Wildlife Cruises), Adrian Clifton (Scenic Hotel Dunedin), James Higham (University of Otago),Dave McFarlane (Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust)

Valued Advisors: Department of Conservation esp Craig Wilson and Jim Fyfe. Otago Peninsula Trust. Weibke Finkler – University of Otago. Deane Agnew

Design and webhosting: Enterprise Dunedin (Special Thanks Sarah Bramhall)

Code placement: Mark Joyce – Best Little Dunedin Street Map, Graeme and Hayden Bell – AtoZ guide, Faye Zhang – Chinese Map

Printing of the flyers and posters has been sponsored by Scenic Hotel Dunedin City and Otago Peninsula Trust. Scenic Hotel Dunedin City Manager Adrian Clifton says “Our hotels are committed to making a difference for New Zealand’s environment. We’re proud to contribute to helping spread the valuable wildlife care messages”. Otago Peninsula Trust has sponsored printing as their Christmas gift to the wildlife.

Dunedin has many committed wildlife and conservation charities working to protect the unique and endangered local wildlife and habitats. Find out more about volunteer opportunities or donating to the causes below:

Local Organisations:

Dunedin Wildlife Hospital

Aim: Veterinary facility specialising exclusively in the treatment of New Zealand’s native species.

Our services include receiving sick and injured animals, diagnosis and triage, treatment, hospitalisation and recovery, and working to ensure successful rehabilitation and release back to the native environment

Hawkesbury Lagoon

Aim: Planting, clearing and maintaining areas around the lagoon at Waikouaiti (East Otago).

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Aim: Protection of plants and animals from predators within a 307 ha fenced sanctuary. Volunteers are needed for weeding and planting, pest and fence monitoring, track building and maintenance and regular care of habitat areas.

Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group

Aim: Eradicating possums from the Otago Peninsula is the primary focus. There are many ways that locals can get involved

Otago Peninsula Trust

Aim: Preserving and Enhancing Otago Peninsula for everyone to enjoy

Penguin Place

Aim: Habitat restoration, predator control, a research programme and on-site rehabilitation care for penguins that are sick, starving or wounded.

Predator Free Dunedin

Aim: Predator Free Dunedin by 2050 Predator Free Dunedin is a conservation collective formed to create a biodiversity rich city. 20 organisations working together, under one umbrella, to achieve predator free status over 31,000 hectares.

National Organisations working in or near to Dunedin

Forest and Bird

Aim: Protecting and restoring New Zealand’s natural environment. Various volunteering opportunities around Dunedin

Bird Rescue NZ

Aim: accepts and cares for all New Zealand birds whether they are native, non-native or pet

Our Seas Our Future

Aim: Protecting New Zealand’s coastal and marine ecosystems through advocacy, education and environmental stewardship. Volunteer opportunities include Adopt-a-CoastTM, and coastal clean-up events.

Penguin Rescue

Aim: To remove yellow-eyed penguins off the endangered species list

Quarantine island community

Aim: Environmental and historic restoration, sustainability and spirituality are at the heart of this island community. Open weekends on the last weekend of each month, volunteers welcome for a day or multiple weeks. Activities include: native tree planting and follow-up, walking trail maintenance, weed and pest control and heritage restoration.

Save the Otago Peninsula

Aim: Protecting and enhancing the natural environment of the Otago Peninsula. Current working bees at Smiths Creek planting every Tuesday 9:30–12:30 pm and Sunday 10 am–1 pm. Volunteer tasks for all levels of abilities and skills.

Sea Lion Trust

Aim: provide protection to and education about this endangered mammal species.

Sinclair Wetlands

Aim: Restoration and enhancement of a large wetland south of Dunedin. Volunteers and community groups always welcome.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust

Aim: Saving yellow-eyed penguin by restoring coastal forest and controlling predators. Frequent workdays involving clearing, planting and maintaining areas of coastal penguin habitat