Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Special

Firstly, apologies if this blog takes a little longer to download, particularly for those on a slower connection or with limited data. I had so many great photos it was hard to choose and even with the  "story boards" there are still quite a few. But I'm sure you'll enjoy viewing them anyway.

These particular penguins have their home at Curio Bay & while a lot of Yellow-Eyed Penguins (Maori name Hoiho) lead a relatively sheltered life, viewed by the public from a hide hidden in the undergrowth, these particular birds are in the constant glare of the many visitors that come to Curio Bay to see the Petrified Forest at low tide. If low tide happens to coincide with the morning or evening return from the sea to feed the chicks then there is quite an audience to watch their endearing waddle back to the nest.

This particular penguin actually came down from its nest in the flax above the rocky platform just to have a spruce up in a large rock pool before returning to wait on its partner's return. Yellow-eyed penguins are usually quite shy but this one wasn't too worried about the dozen or so people that respectfully kept the required 10 metre distance & lined its return route home.

Don't these little guys remind you of little old men walking(waddling) along with their hands in their pockets? A bit like a miniature Charlie Chaplin. They are so cute!

Here he takes a look in a shallow pool at his reflection; checking to see if he scrubbed up OK? They have such sturdy feet....in a fetching shade of pink. They also look like they wear baggy plus-fours.

One last stretch before jumping up the last high rocks & disappearing under the flax bushes.

Over on the opposite side of the bay across this deep narrow channel was another penguin nest where the day before David with his eagle eye, had spotted a chick standing on the ledge waiting for a parent to return with dinner (the photo that appears in the previous blog). We returned to Curio Bay the following day and were thrilled to arrive just as a parent launched itself out of the foaming surge & waddled home to feed it's chick or chicks as we were soon to find out.

This is one of the chicks waiting for dinner. As you can see he is losing his downy fluff and is not the most beautiful of babies but still cute in an odd way, he looks like he has an overcoat of fluff on. I like the way he's sleeping standing up with his nose in the air.

Once Mum (or maybe it's Dad) arrived on the rocky platform she stood on tiptoe & had a look for her chick along the ledge. After spotting a Blacked-backed Gull  resting beside the chick she marched off quickly with much determination heading straight for it.

Another look to check where the gull was she gave it a quick telling off as she jumped up the rocks past it to greet her chick.

The chick set up a raucous welcome "gimme food, gimme food" but Mum was having none of it. She marched back along the ledge and jumped at the gull sending it off that rock and on to another. All the noise & activity must have woken a second chick that suddenly appeared from under some bushes further along the ledge. What a surprise! Now there were two noisy chicks marching back & forward trying to get some food.

Mum chased the gull a few more times before she gave in to the cries of the chicks & regurgitated dinner for them. One of the chicks took a tumble off the ledge in the scramble to feed & there was a collective gasp from us onlookers but he soon made his way back up the rock face just in time to say goodbye to Mum who strode off purposely back to sea.

Mum walked right to the edge of the channel where the large swell was surging & foaming with white water & bull kelp on the incoming tide. Now looking like a miniature surfer with a peroxide hair-do eyeing the surf as quick as a flash she was gone.

One brave little penguin.

And one fantastic experience for us.


  1. Your photography is superb, thank you for posting your tiki tour. We will be visiting the area 27 Feb-4 Mar and hope to see all these things too.

    1. Many thanks for your compliments & I'm glad you are enjoying the blog. The Catlins is a beautiful area, but be prepared for a bit of mist & sea fog, makes it all the more magical! :) Safe travels.

    2. Hi, just discovered your blog via a link you posted on Tripadvisor. Thank you so much, fantastic photos can't wait to come back next Feb. for a more leisurely self drive tour after a hectic coach trip this year. Will be looking out for you!


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.