Searching for Seals at Shag Point, Coastal Otago
There are plenty of places in New Zealand where you can see seals or sea lions, and one of the best (and easiest) to visit is Shag Point. It’s a five-minute detour from the main road between Dunedin and Oamaru and you will only need to walk for a minute or two to see lots of New Zealand fur seals.
Seals at Shag Point
From the car park at Shag Point there are a few different areas where you’ll likely see fur seals. Have a little walk around and you’ll soon see heaps of them (take care though, there are some uneven bits of track and there are no fences near the cliffs). The last time we visited there were three of them swimming around and playing in the pools below the cliffs. It was a great experience to see them play fighting and enjoying each other’s company (unless they were actually fighting – who knows!).
While we were watching the seals play below, we noticed one lying on the cliffs around 20 metres away from us. It just kind of sat there and watched us, and before long we saw another smaller seal poke it’s head out from the bushes. It then went and joined the bigger one and they basically posed for us for a couple of minutes. They’re such cute creatures!
It’s a good idea to explore a little bit as seals often just sit there sleeping, meaning you’ll want to find some that are actually doing something! Apparently, you can occasionally see dolphins and whales at Shag Point, but I never have.
A short walk
You’ll see a sign guiding you to a walking track (Matakaea Track I think). I was expecting this to be a proper hike but it’s just a 100-metre track to a viewpoint. You’ll likely see seals there too but they’re a little further away. You might also see some sea birds and the views are pretty good too.
You’ve probably heard of the Moeraki Boulders, which are only 10-minutes or so from Shag Point. There are also some boulders closer to Shag Point, known as the Kaitiki Boulders (or Shag Point Boulders). We tried to find them, but the tide was high and there didn’t seem to be any way down to the beach (this is on the road towards Shag Point). We did see a couple poking their heads out of the waves from the road above though. It’s on Google Maps, so maybe you can try and find them, although the Moeraki Boulders are way better (judging from photos) so you may as well just go there. If you want to see a stunning sunrise you really can’t look past the Moeraki Boulders — such a surreal spot.
Getting to Shag Point
Shag Point is roughly halfway between Dunedin and Oamaru – you’ll see the sign clearly when driving between the two. Kaitiki Beach is nearby and so is the Kaitiki Point Lighthouse. This is another good place to see seals as well as yellow-eyed penguins. There is so much to explore in Coastal Otago!
Are you planning a trip to Dunedin? Check out our list of the best things to see and do!