July 17, 2020 5 min read

9 Best Places to See New Zealand Seals

The 9 Best Places to See New Zealand Seals. 

New Zealand Seals are adorable & very photogenic.

Below is a list of the 9 Best Places to find New Zealand Seals around the country.

Keep in mind, there are three types of New Zealand Seals.

The fur seal, sea lion & elephant seals.

On occasions, we have leopard seals temporarily stay who swim up from Antarctica to make a visit usually to Auckland or the Campbell Islands.

1. Kaikoura - South Island.

Kaikoura Seals New Zealand (GUIDE)

Photo of Seal lying on the Kaikoura walkway. Traveler photo submitted by mooseandbok2006 (Jan 2018) Tripadvisor.

Kaikoura is proudly known for having a lot of seals in its area. The prime spots to view the New Zealand seals in Kaikoura are: 

  • Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
  • Point Kean Viewpoint
  • Ohau Point Look Out (20km north of Kaikoura town)
  • Ohau Waterfall (20km north of Kaikoura town)
  • Half Moon Bay (2283-2279 State Highway 1)

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a popular attraction with seals often seen lying on the walkway or around the walkway forest and shrubs.

There are also small pools alongside the walkway which are often used by the baby pups as little nurseries and can provide some adorable views.

Ohau Point Look Out & Ohau Waterfall is a 25-minute drive north of Kaikoura's township.

The Waterfall Nursery - Day Care for the Babies

Watch a video below of the youngsters playing around in the waterfall pools. Despite recent earthquakes in the region the pools are still accessible and being used by the juveniles. 


This is the only place in the world where this type of behavior is observed.

On the way to Half Moon Bay, you will find multiple viewing points on the side of the road to view the seals relaxing out by the rocks.

Watch a cute baby seal in Kaikoura in the video below.

2. Sandfly Bay Walk - Dunedin

Sandfly Bay Seal Colony New Zealand

Photo of Sandfly Bay, Dunedin credited to switchbacktravel.com

Sandfly Bay is a little wildlife oasis with lots to offer including a beautiful golden beach, rolling sand dunes, yellow-eyed penguins, and seals laying out in the sun.

There are both fur and seal lions in the area.

It's a great place to visit if you are looking for New Zealand seals in the South Island. It is well known for spotting both fur & sea lion seals relaxing on the beach.

You will be able to get good views of the seals close to the car park, or you can descend down to the beach for a closer look. 

Remember not to get to close to the seals as they can be quite dangerous and unexpectedly fast

Location: Seal Point Road Otago Peninsula area, Dunedin New Zealand.

3. Milford Sound

Milford Sound Seal Colony New Zealand

Photo of seals sunbathing on the rocks in Milford Sound.

Milford Sound attracts fur seals year-round. You will find these seals often at Seal Point playing in the water or warming up on the rocks.

Seal Rock is a preferred sunbathing spot for the seals due to very limited locations in the area where they can climb up the rocks into the sun.

If you visit Seal Rock on one of the famous Milford cruises make sure you take a waterproof jacket just encase it gets wet. You will want to make sure you have a good quality camera if you want a good shot at seal rock as they are at a little distance from the cruise boat. 

Make sure you are prepared for no township, fuel stations, etc. Milford sound feels like you are hitting the virtual end of New Zealand.

There is literally just a wharf and a tourist center with some food options and souvenirs.

Location: South Island, New Zealand.

4. Abel Tasman National Park

Kayakers Viewing Seals In Abel Tasman National Park

Photo of Kayakers relaxing in the Abel Tasman

Fur Seals are often spotted in the Abel Tasman National Park.

You have a high chance of viewing New Zealand fur seals when using the local water taxis or on a kayaking adventure. 

Walking the Abel Tasman will limit the sightings of fur seals as many of the tracks go inland in areas where the seal colonies are not established.

There is a cruise to see the Tonga Island seal colony further north as another option for individuals or groups looking for a more relaxed experience with a great chance of viewing the seals. 

Location: South Island 7183, New Zealand.

5. Tauranga Bay Seal Colony/ Cape Foulwind

Cape Foulwind Seal Colony New Zealand

This is a great place to view a New Zealand seal colony in the North Island.

There are two car parks signposted for the Foulwinds seal sanctuary. The carpark closet to Carters beach is about an hour's walk to the seals, whilst the others near Tauranga Bay is only a few minutes away up a short man-made track.

From the Tauranga Bay carpark the NZ fur seal colonies are just 10 minutes walk in either direction.  

You can sometimes seal the seal pups playing in the pools while the mothers look on.

Viewing is best from October to March. 

This is when the bull seals return to mate which brings more seals into the bay.

There is a public toilet available but it would be recommended to try and stop off at a nice cafe somewhere on the way as public toilets aren't always the best.

Location:Coast Road, Westport 7892 New Zealand.

6. Nugget Point

Nugget Point Seals New Zealand

Nugget Point is one of New Zealand's oldest lighthouses.

The view provides panoramic views of the Caitlins coast. It is a great viewing platform to see for fur seals at the northern end of The Caitlins Coast.

Nugget Point was named from James Cook as the rocks surrounding the area looked like gold nuggets.

A large colony of fur seals, as well as other animals such as penguins, royal spoonbills & gannets also call this place home.

Be aware of the road in and out as it's about 8km of unsealed roads.

Location: The Nuggets Road, Ahuriri Flat 9271, New Zealand.

Sinclair Head - Red Rocks.

Sinclair Head Red Rocks Seal Colony New Zealand

The prime time for Sinclair Head viewings of seals is between May & October. 

This is when the single seals arrive looking to mate.

To reach this place you will need to take the Red Rock walkway track which runs along the beach to Sinclair Head. Located 4km from the Te Kopahou visitor center car park.

Location: Red Rocks Walkway, Owhiro Bay, Wellington 6023, New Zealand.

 8. Cape Palliser Seal Colony

Cape Palliser Seal Colony

The largest fur seal colony in the North Island is found at Cape Palliser near Kirikiri Bay.

A great viewing point is from the Cape Palliser lighthouse.

Location: 3594 Cape Palliser Road, Cape Palliser 5772, New Zealand

9. Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach Baby Seals New Zealand

Wharariki Beach right beside Golden bay is home to the baby seals of New Zealand. These baby seals play and stay in the safety of the tidal pools on the beach while their parents are out hunting.

The fur seal pups are engaging to watch, just remember to respect their home & always keep a safe distance from the seals. 

Location: Wharariki Road, Puponga 7073, New Zealand.

Top Tips To Be Prepared When Viewing The Seals

  1. Bringing binoculars is recommended as some spots the seals are only visible from a distance.
  2. Take a jacket in case it's windy as most spots are exposed to cold ocean winds. 
  3. Keep your distance from the seals as they can bite and are surprisingly fast.
  4. Make sure to keep your children close to you at all times.
  5. Make sure to tidy up any litter you take with you to the beaches and be a tidy kiwi.


Discover the best places to see seals in New Zealand

There are numerous beautiful locations around New Zealand in both the North and South Island you can spot our cute and cuddly looking seals.

Most locations are set amongst New Zealand's natural bays and coastlines providing spectacular views of not only the seals but the pacific ocean and other species that inhabit the area.

The seals may look cute and cuddly, but ensure you always keep your distance and respect their space and habitat. 

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