Hoiho - Yellow Eyed Penguin

Yellow Eyed Penguin


There are some 17 different species of penguins in the world (all in the southern hemisphere) but there is one very unique to New Zealand - the yellow-eyed penguin.

Living in coastal forest in temperate New Zealand rather than perched on ice-flows in the antartic this is indeed a rather peculiar bird. It is the rarest penguin in the world numbering around 4,000 with the majority on the sub-antartic islands of New Zealand but over 600 pairs are on the mainland of New Zealand on the southeastern coast.

Over the years of forest clearing and predator introduction the yep numbers have dropped signigicantly and only a concerted conservation effort backed by tourism interests have saved the Yellow Eyed Penguin in New Zealand. Just 30 minutes from Dunedin, New Zealand's 4th largest city you can walk amongst these birds in their nesting area without disturbing them. Also along the Catlins Coast there are colonies and they can be observed waddling about in various spots.

Currently the birds are on a winter program feeding up before they go in to the breeding cycle which sees the chicks hatch around October / November. best times to see them is when they are coming and going each day so around 8-9am and 3-5pm.

The Maori name for the Yellow Eyed Penguin is 'Hoiho' which translates to noise shouter - which soons becomes obvious when they screech out on arriving to shore.

Based in dunedin the Yellow Eyed Penguin trust funds conservation efforts for the Hoiho the big part being for the planting of trees which the birds need to nest in. Even the local cheese company mainland throws in $75,000 a year to help out. Yes, they're penguin mad in the south of nz!

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