Fiordland Penguin

Fiordland Portrait 1Fiordland Portrait 2Fiordland Returning to Sea 2







Height: 55 to 65 cm (22 to 31 inches) for average adult.

Weight: 3 to 5 kg (5 to 11 lbs) for average adult.


  • Only penguin with 3 to 6 white cheek stripes (partially exposed bases to black feathers).
  • Golden-yellow crest starting at the base of the bill extending over the eye to the back of the head, never appears raised.
  • Large orange-red bill.
  • Reddish-brown eyes.
  • Males tend to be slightly larger than females with a slightly thicker bill.
  • Chicks are dark brown, white under parts with less obvious yellow crest on head.


  • Pink.


  • Squid, small octopus, krill and small fish.


  • Indigenous to Southwest Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, the Fiordland Region, and North Coast of Stewart Island.
  • Instinct returns them to the same breeding site every year, they return to breed when they are 5 – 6 years old.
  • Birds nest in the dense coastal rainforest building their nests with roots under trees, the trees are protection from the summer heat.
  • Fiordland Penguins spend the winter months at sea often visiting the southern coasts of Australia and Tasmania after their moult is complete. This is often thought of as a migration.


  • Males arrive at the nesting site in June. The same pair meet year after year and often return to the same nesting site.
  • Quiet in nature they build their nests at least 2 meters (7 feet) apart from another.
  • The male claims his territory with his bill pointed skyward, trumpeting calls and head swinging from side to side. Mated pairs engage in mutual displays before mating.
  • The female lays 2 eggs 4 days apart, the second egg being larger than the first.
  • The male incubates the eggs for approximately 30 days until they hatch.
  • The male is responsible for guarding the chicks during their first 20 days while the female forages returning daily to feed the chicks.
  • After this stage the chicks gather in crèches while both parents return to the sea to fish returning daily.
  • After the chicks fledge in November the adults return to the sea to build up their fat reserves and start their month long molt in February. The pair moult near or at their nest remaining together until the process is complete.


  • New Zealand Weka, an introduced species, steals eggs on Stewart Island.
  • Human encroachment is always a threat. Colonies living near farms must contend with dogs, cats, rats and other introduced species.
  • Competition with commercial squid fisheries for food.
  • -The population appears to be relatively stable at approximately 2,000 pairs. © All rights reserved.

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