Fiordland Crested Penguin Visitor



Fiordland Crested Penguin

(Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)

Juvenile Fiordland Crested Penguin. This little fellow has just fledged and is probably still mainly dependent on its parents.

This morning we had a small visitor in Halfmoon Bay. A friend mentioned there was a Little Blue Penguin on the slipway. Well my photo library for Little Blues is not brilliant, even though they are the most common of our species, so off I went with the camera. What I found wasn’t a Little Blue, but a juvenile Fiordland Crested. It almost certainly was washed away from it’s parents nest area on Horseshoe Point, about a mile away. …. We had a good South East swell overnight….Although fully fledged I wouldn’t expect it to “go solo” for another 3 weeks or so, and certainly it did appear quite confused. As the name suggests, Fiordland Crested Penguins are most common in Fiordland, although there were always some nesting birds on Codfish Island off the NW Coast, and we used to see them regularly when we were chartering down to Port Pegasus at the far south of the Island. The first I knew to nest in the immediate vicinity of Halfmoon Bay was around 35 years ago at Bench Island. But now we have a small number.. perhaps 4 or 5 pairs…. every spring hereabout. This little fellow was returned to the nest area by the Department of Conservation and hopefully it will survive. It appeared plump and well fed.

Little Blue Penguin

Locally we have 4 Penguin species.

Little Blues being most common,

Yellow Eyed penguin, Auckland Islands

Yellow Eyed were once very common, but numbers have been steadily declining, for reasons not yet clear, although the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust are undertaking considerable work in studying the populations.


This pair was photographed in a Fiordland cave many years ago. Note the pronounced crest. Getting into the cave necessitated sliding in on my belly through a very smelly mixture of mud and penguin dung, and using the cameras focusing light as a torch. (And praying it would all work… pre-digital days)

Fiordland Crested seem to be establishing a small, but secure presence locally

This young Snares Crested Penguin had not developed the crest. Note the pronounced gape, which the look-alike Fiordland Crested lacks.

And last year I saw my first Snares Crested Penguin away from the Snares Island. I initially thought it was a Fiordland Crested, but realised my mistake when I loaded the photographs.

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

Share this post with your friends



Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar