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Profiling Punakaiki Penguins

Young New Zealanders acting as kaitiaki

Little blue penguins are the smaller species of penguins in the world. Yet, they can swim up to 70 km to find their food at sea and despite their clumsy looking walk, they can also cover significant distances on the ground. When they come back from their foraging trip, they can climb 300 m cliffs and walk up to 1.5 km to reach their nest. Often this means crossing the coastal road which is a major source of mortality in the West Coast. Other important threats are the presence of mammalian predators and wandering dogs.
One way to protect these penguins is to provide them with a safe nesting place that they can reach without crossing the road. Since  2016, I have been working in collaboration with primary school students at the Barrytown school to ​build nest boxes for little blue penguins.
We discussed the important component of the ideal penguin nest box and started off by practicing with cardboard, paint and various vegetation during last year's Conservation week. Then we headed for the beach to have a look at potential sites to install nest boxes.
The Barrytown school students, and their teacher Rachael Whyte, have since been hard at work putting together the actual penguin boxes. Four boxes are now almost complete and we hope to install them in the Te Ara Taiko Nature Reserve very soon.
This project is funded by The Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust




Slideshow on Little Blue Penguins

This short presentation was used to introduce the project to primary school students.

Leaflet on Little Blue Penguin

Leaflet used to present the project to school students. Prepared by Paige Lawson, undergraduate student at Lincoln University

Summer scholar report about the project

Report prepared by Paige Lawson, as part of a summer scholarship at Lincoln University. This report focuses on the analysis of pictures collected with camera traps.

Department of Conservation

General information about the ecology of little blue penguins, where to spot them in New Zealand, the threats the face,  and how we can help them.

Penguin nest box challenge

In 2016, the Te Papa Tongarewa museum has launched a Great Penguin Nest Box Challenge based on a DIY design project. Find some inspiration here and start your own DIY penguin nest box.

The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

A great place to observe wild little blue penguins

Te Papa Tongarewa Blog

A blog about the penguin research conducted by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Forest and Birds

This page provides general information abotu the biology of little blue penguins as well as a list of conservation projects and practical information about the building of nest boxes

West Coast Penguin Trust

Specific information about the West Coast populations and the amazing work done by the West Coast Penguin Trust to conserve the little blues and other marine birds.

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