Did you know that there are more species of penguins that call New Zealand home than any other country? We are particularly blessed with these beautiful birds here in Southland as we have three species that can be found on our shores. 

The tawaki Fiordland crested penguins can be found along the Fiordland coast and along other parts of the southwestern coast of the South Island. This penguin species has a distinct appearance, characterized by a striking yellow crest extending from the base of its bill to the back of its head. It has dark blue-black plumage on its back and white underparts. The current tawaki population is between 2,500 and 3,000 breeding pairs and has been in decline since the 1950s. Read more about tawaki Fiordland crested penguins.

The hoiho yellow-eyed penguin is unique to New Zealand and thought to be one of the world's rarest penguin species with only 4,000-5,000 mature individuals in 2019. Yet, they are a common sight in the Catlins and can also be found in other parts along the southeastern coast of the South Island, including Stewart Island. The hoiho is recognised for its distinctive yellow eyes and yellow headband across its eyes. These penguins are known for their unique courtship rituals, including elaborate displays and vocalizations. Read more about hoiho yellow-eyed penguins.

The world’s smallest penguin, the kororā little penguin, also known as the blue penguin, can be spotted at many places on our coastline. They have a small size, being just over 25 centimeters tall and weighing about 1 kilogram. They are adaptable and can even nest in man-made structures such as penguin boxes or under buildings. Kororā are highly social and often form large breeding colonies. They are excellent swimmers, relying on their streamlined bodies and strong flippers to navigate through the water. Little penguins feed on small fish, squid, and krill. Read more about kororā little penguins.

Learn more about other birds in Southland: