Penguin Spotting at Motunau

A well known fishing spot north of Christchurch, Dean and I went to Motenau beach back in March twice at dusk to find some penguins. Neither of us had ever been there.

Motunau Island, which was once a whaling station, is now a nature reserve for some of New Zealand’s rarest birds, including the endangered white flippered penguin.  There are about 1,800 pairs of penguins on Motenau Island (access is restricted to Department of Conversation staff), and because the island is now overcrowded, DoC staff have moved some penguins to other areas and set up some breeding areas. We discovered that some nesting boxes have been set up on the nearby beach to encourage some of the penguins to go there, so we decided to visit in the hope of spotting a few…

The first thing we spotted were some guys on a stag night (Motenau Island is in the background):


It was such a beautiful beach at sunset, and the sun reflecting against the rocks and Island was stunning:


Walking further around the beach, we spotted lots of fossils and driftwood, including this hut:


Walking up and down the beach:


In the end, we didn’t see any penguins; just some nesting boxes. We’ll try again sometime during the next breeding season. Check out a few more photos of Motunau Beach on my Flickr site:


Little Blue Penguins

Well my camera definitely doesn’t take nights shots at all well. These were the best ones, and I’ve edited them.

The girls and me went to Taiaroa Head at sunset on our Christmas holiday to see the blue penguins at night. There were over 300 penguins that night making their way up the beach to their mate and to their chicks. They wait till about half an hour after sunset till they come in making sure that there are no predators about; there was a seal jumping around the sea that night. They started arriving about 10 pm and came in in groups for about half an hour.

They’re about 30 cm tall; not much bigger than the seagull in the last photo. It’s well worth the trip (a trust runs a guided tour, but all profit goes directly back into saving the penguins – You can read more about the penguins here: