The Otago Peninsula is bounded by the Otago harbour on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It is about 24 km long, 8 km wide and has an area of 9,600ha. The low hills of volcanic rocks reach an altitude of 400m. Steep cliffs and sandy bays form the perimeter.
The land is a patchwork of pasture for farm stock, sand country, wetlands, exotic wood lots, remnants of native bush, scattered rural dwellings and small townships. A vegetation survey by Peter Johnson in 1982 identified 180 patches of forest and scrub over 0.5 ha. 77 of the sites were rated medium to high for their botanical and wildlife values.
The Otago Peninsula has 62 different bird species and a total of 705 wild plant species, of which just over half are native plants.
The Otago Peninsula landscape and its vegetation forms a striking contrast to much of the agricultural land seen driving either North or South from Dunedin. This is one of the reasons that the tourists come. In this landscape there are animals and plants that have persisted despite the huge changes to their environment in the past 200 years. But some of these plants and animals are only just hanging on, often due to the destructive impact of pest animals.