Did you know that New Zealand is the penguin capital of the world ?
It’s the nesting ground for nine of the sixteen species of living penguins and one of the best places in the world to go to get up close and personal with these cute little birds.
Once these penguins could be found along much of the New Zealand coast, waddling along the beaches and forests. But these days, there are less penguins and few sightings. And most of the sightings are confined to established and controlled areas (for the protection of the remaining penguins).
The best place to find penguins in New Zealand is in the South Island, especially along the eastern coast. Start in Christchurch with a visit to the International Antarctic Center for a sneak preview of the Little Blue penguins and then head down south via State Highway One to Oamaru. Penguins take pride of place here. In fact, penguin paraphernalia is so common in Oamaru that Lonely Planet New Zealand’s South Island guidebook called the town ‘penguintown.’
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Center, located at the old limestone quarry on the waterfront, is a perfect example of a sustainable tourism venture. Featuring a wildlife museum and a wildlife reserve, it manages to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors yearly without disturbing the environment of the penguin colony. While it’s open daily from mid morning to late evening, the best time to visit and view these cute penguins is in the evening (6 pm in winter, 10 pm in summer).
Oamaru is the most popular place to view penguins in their natural habitat but there are plenty of other places to check out further south, as highlighted by BrewZone’s penguin spotting map…
Discover more about New Zealand’s South Island with the latest Lonely Planet guidebook ‘New Zealand’s South Island’.
Don’t forget to Enter the Perceptive Travel giveaway to win a copy for yourself.