Wildlife in the Bay of Plenty

Budding David Attenborough's rejoice! In the Bay of Plenty the wildlife is so abundant you won't know what to do next.

If no trip is complete without a heart-stopping wildlife encounter, then the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit the Bay of Plenty will make you feel as though you've stepped into a nature documentary. Get ready to tick everything from orcas, sharks, seals and penguins to oh-so-cute kiwis and even glow worms off your wildlife bucket list.

The Bay of Plenty lives up to its name...and then some. In the cold blue ocean, in the skies, on land and under it, the animals enjoy the protection of wildlife and marine reserves. Many of the reserves can only be visited with an organized tour, but there are plenty of excellent ones to choose from, perfect if you're after things to do with kids.

Here are some animal-oriented things to do to kick off your plans:

Image: Whakatane Kiwi Trust

Land Animals

  • Meet New Zealand's iconic little bird in Whakatāne, known locally as the kiwi capital of the world. You'll even find them wandering in residents' gardens at night.
  • Critters from possums to donkeys to eels (yes, eels) hang out at kid-friendly Marshalls Animal Park.
  • Wander through the enchanting Katikati Bird Gardens where feathered friends of all sizes flit and waddle over the manicured grounds.

Image: Tourism Bay of Plenty

Marine Life

  • Fulfil a lifelong dream and swim with wild, playful dolphins in Tauranga. It's more magical than you could ever imagine.
  • You'll smell and hear the New Zealand fur seal colony on Whale Island (Moutohorā) before you see them. Cheeky, huffing, puffing and fierce, these blubbery guys and gals will steal your heart.
  • Set sail on an epic wildlife boat cruise and you might just spot marine life including orcas, humpback and pilot whales, turtles and more.

Image: Katie Cox for Tourism Bay of Plenty

History of Dinosaurs

  • Whale Island (Moutohorā) is home to the tuatara. While it looks like a lizard, it's actually a descendent of a 200-million-year-old dinosaur. This is the real Jurassic Park.
  • Kayak silently under a starry sky across Lake McLaren and watch millions of glow worms illuminate the scene...just as they did when dinosaurs walked here so long ago.
  • Listen to an orchestra of birds singing their hearts out in the native Whirinaki Forest, one of the world's last native prehistoric forests.

Created in partnership with Tourism Bay of Plenty