clearwater team

Our Story

The Clearwater Family

Clearwater Wildlife Tours is a family owned and operated business.

My brother, Mark Clearwater and I grew up on the Otago Peninsula on our family farm located at Mt Charles, Papanui Inlet. This farm has been in our family since the days of the European settlers in Dunedin - over 180 years.

l ventured into tourism back in 1996 when my husband Mike and I opened Peninsula Bed & Breakfast in Portobello.  Our 3 boys were born there, and we enjoyed meeting travelers from all over the world.  Bed & Breakfast was a relatively new concept back then and I remember being told that I was very young to operate a B&B at 26 years old… they sometimes asked where my parents were!

Without internet back then many guests would miss out on wildlife tours as they were fully booked. I would often bundle them into my car and take them to our backcountry so they could experience the scenic inlets, the rugged outer coast, and the abundance of wildlife at Cape Saunders. I was always so proud to explain our family ties to the area and our farming history.

Cape Saunders farm was previously owned by our Uncle Brian Clearwater and in 2006 we purchased this land alongside our parents Alan and Sandra.

Our Dad still manages the farm and is still counting sheep among many other tasks after over 60 years of farming on 3 Clearwater farms.

In 2019 the opportunity to expand the family farm at Cape Saunders arose, and we took it. At the time we planned to launch a joint partnership with an existing operation, but the universe had other plans…

Unfortunately, tragedy struck in late 2019 with the loss of my husband, the father of our 3 sons and in 2020 covid followed.

Out of the ashes our family has created Clearwater Wildlife Tours.

We have selected a team of the best local guides to make sure your visitor experiences are the best they can be.

Our family has improved all the walking tracks and roads so that our tour vehicles have better access. This has reduced the walking distances so that the beach access is now just a gentle stroll to the shore.  We have also provided better access for wildlife and will continue to plant native trees to expand our private conservation area.

Our aim is to secure this land for future generations and to continue the conservation efforts to protect these precious wildlife habitats.

We are very proud of our achievements and are excited to showcase this experience to the world.

Rachel Kerr (nee Clearwater)
Owner and Operations Manager
Clearwater Wildlife Tours