Marine Bird Spotlight - Little Blue Penguin

These are the world’s smallest penguin measuring in at around 25cm tall and weighing in between 1kg – 1.5kgs. They are known by many names, most commonly referred to as blue penguins, little penguin and little blue penguin. They are found around most of New Zealand’s coastline and also southern Australia.

Blue Penguin

You can identify these penguins quite easily as their plumage is blue with a white underbelly.

Little Blue Penguins like to forage out to sea (Up to 25km offshore and up to 70km from their colony) during the day where they are hunting for small fish, crustaceans and squid, they return back to land under the cover of darkness and live underground in burrows, in man-made structures or under buildings even.

Penguin Blue 1

Around the age of 2-3 years old is when these penguins reach breeding age. Two eggs are generally laid between the months of August to November in their burrows. The adults will take turns to stay with the chicks not leaving them alone for the first 3 weeks, then both adults can go out to sea to forage. It is around the 8 week period that the chicks are ready to fledge. It is then that they are independent and the adults are able to stock up on food before they begin their annual moult (shed their feathers so they can grow another waterproof coat) which usually last up to 2 weeks. During this time the adults are not able to head out to sea to feed and can be particularly vulnerable as they are unable to swim and also to any predators that are around.

Life expectancy of the Little Blue Penguins is between 6-7 years however individuals have been known the live as long as 25 years old.

Little Blue Penguin 2

Main threats to these penguins are likely to be dogs, cats, ferrets and stoats. Here are a few tips from the Dept of Conservation on how you can help out these penguins:

How to make little penguins safer:

A scruffy penguin is probably moulting, not sick:

There is a small breeding colony that exists near the Kaikoura Coastguard building in South Bay, Kaikoura. Volunteers have built artificial burrows and installed them underneath for these penguins to nest in at night. These penguins can also be found nesting in the surrounding area.

Little Blue Penguin in Kaikoura

There is some great work being done by the team at K.O.R.I (Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute) with research and protection of the Little Blue Penguins in Kaikoura. Check out this link for some more information on what they do and how you can sponsor a Little Blue.

 

This week has brought with it some crazy weather for us here in Kaikōura – with a lot of the Kaikōura District resembling a snow globe! The Kaikōura Ranges have seen a healthy amount of snow, making for a wonderful backdrop for our guests’ photos over the weekend. Last week we spotted semi-resident Sperm Whales Tiaki, Tutu and Aotearoa deep diving in the Hikurangi Trench. When time allowed, our tours have also seen pods of Dusky and Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and various marine birds including the Giant Northern Petrel and the Black Browed Mollymawk. 

A few Humpback whales decided to pay Kaikōura an extra special visit on Tuesday – making whale watching possible from the beaches of South Bay! These humpbacks, who are currently making their way North from Antarctica to warmer waters, lived up to their playful and inquisitive reputation and put on a real show for people on their afternoon walks and lucky kayakers passing by.

NZ Travel blogger Bare Kiwi joined us on our Sunday’s whale watching tour for a ‘whale of a time’ with our semi-resident Sperm Whale Aotearoa. For the next six months Bare Kiwi will be somewhat of a local to Kaikōura so be sure to follow him on Instagram to keep up with the activities he gets up to here in Kaikōura. Check out this cool photo he snapped from our morning tour!

It was World Orca Day on Friday so we thought we’d post a wee throwback picture below of Summer 2016/2017 with the Orca. Did you know that even though Orca are referred to as Killer Whale’s, they are actually part of the dolphin family? The name ‘Killer Whale’ originated from the Orca being the only known predators to whales, mostly the young and injured. 

We are half way into the July school holidays here in New Zealand, are you still looking for ways to fill up the rest of the break? Winter is a great time to visit us here at Whale Watch, especially when children travel for free! We are offering a July School Holiday Special, so please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura with your family and seeing our spectacular marine life.

REGULAR, SCHEDULED CLOSURES OF STATE HIGHWAY 1 SOUTH OF KAIKOURA

There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

As we enter into the cooler winter months it is a good reminder to take extra care on the roads and to check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling.

Progress is continuing to be made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina, with the modified trailer and public jetty now being used for launching our vessel Tohora. This is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. All our berths have now been removed. This is an end of an era but we are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! The use of the modified trailer and public jetty will continue until further notice. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017.

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available, please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on res@whalewatch.co.nz, phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day. Please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

TRANSPORT UPDATE

IntercityHasslefree Tours & Canterbury Leisure Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.