Marine Bird Spotlight - Little Blue Penguin

These are the world’s smallest penguin measuring in at around 25cm tall and weighing in between 1kg – 1.5kgs. They are known by many names, most commonly referred to as blue penguins, little penguin and little blue penguin. They are found around most of New Zealand’s coastline and also southern Australia.

Blue Penguin

You can identify these penguins quite easily as their plumage is blue with a white underbelly.

Little Blue Penguins like to forage out to sea (Up to 25km offshore and up to 70km from their colony) during the day where they are hunting for small fish, crustaceans and squid, they return back to land under the cover of darkness and live underground in burrows, in man-made structures or under buildings even.

Penguin Blue 1

Around the age of 2-3 years old is when these penguins reach breeding age. Two eggs are generally laid between the months of August to November in their burrows. The adults will take turns to stay with the chicks not leaving them alone for the first 3 weeks, then both adults can go out to sea to forage. It is around the 8 week period that the chicks are ready to fledge. It is then that they are independent and the adults are able to stock up on food before they begin their annual moult (shed their feathers so they can grow another waterproof coat) which usually last up to 2 weeks. During this time the adults are not able to head out to sea to feed and can be particularly vulnerable as they are unable to swim and also to any predators that are around.

Life expectancy of the Little Blue Penguins is between 6-7 years however individuals have been known the live as long as 25 years old.

Little Blue Penguin 2

Main threats to these penguins are likely to be dogs, cats, ferrets and stoats. Here are a few tips from the Dept of Conservation on how you can help out these penguins:

How to make little penguins safer:

A scruffy penguin is probably moulting, not sick:

There is a small breeding colony that exists near the Kaikoura Coastguard building in South Bay, Kaikoura. Volunteers have built artificial burrows and installed them underneath for these penguins to nest in at night. These penguins can also be found nesting in the surrounding area.

Little Blue Penguin in Kaikoura

There is some great work being done by the team at K.O.R.I (Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute) with research and protection of the Little Blue Penguins in Kaikoura. Check out this link for some more information on what they do and how you can sponsor a Little Blue.

 

Kaikōura’s Summer weather has been a treat this past week, making for some epic sea conditions and amazing clear sightings of marine life out on the water.

It seems like Tiaki and Tutu, two of our favourite whales to see out in the Canyon, have been getting reacquainted since they’ve reunited, as this marks the second week in a row that we’ve seen catching a breather up on the surface and diving down to feed together. Looks like they missed each other as much as we missed them whilst they were away!

Other semi-residential Sperm Whales we saw this week included Mati Mati and Aoraki as well as many transient Sperm Whales who are constantly drawn to Kaikōura due to the abundance of food on offer. As with the majority of our tours, we sighted NZ Fur Seals, Hectors Dolphins, Dusky Dolphins and a variety of seabirds including the Great Wandering Albatross.

Who else is planning to kick start their Summer with a whale watching tour? Bring your family and friends along too and make it an adventure! Buy a whale watching gift voucher or, better yet, check out our Marine Combo deal! Get above, on and below the water with a scenic flight, whale watching boat trip and swim with the dolphins! The ultimate gift this Christmas and one of the best ways to make some lasting Summer memories.

Don’t forget, State Highway 1 North is re-opening this Friday afternoon. And yes, the world famous Nins Bin caravan will be ready to welcome you back! So if you’re making your way along the Coast, stop to enjoy the warm weather, soak up the scenes and take in this incredible new landscape that Kaikōura is quickly becoming known for. They’ll be serving freshly caught crayfish and all that other good stuff including mussels, whitebait and the classic Kiwi fish n’ chips right on the beach – does it get any better?!

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. The full rebuild of the highway will continue in 2018. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. INLAND ROUTE 70 IS OPEN 24/7.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

ORGANISED TRANSPORT OPTIONS FROM CHRISTCHURCH

Hasslefree ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch. Kiwi Experience now have the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers. Intercity Bus also provides a bus service between Christchurch and Kaikoura return.

Progress on the work being done on the roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on the dedicated Kaikoura Earthquake Response page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Fridays. Work is also underway on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.