A big blue penguin colony settled down in Oamaru, giving you a unique opportunity to observe these little lovely animals from very close. Penguins are used to come back from the seaside in the evening, and they come all at the same time, like little rockets flying out of the water! We attended an Evening Viewing at the Blue Penguin Colony camp, and waited for them while sitting in a dedicated amphitheatre. The "show" is amazing, and penguins are very noisy, above all with their chicks are waiting for them in their nests.
Visit Oamaru for a Penguin evening in the Blue Penguin Colony. Those penguins nest in town close to the harbour. There is a little Blue Penguin Reserve/Visitor Centre. You pay about 8$ entrance. Go there at dusk (or about 30 minutes before for commentaries) and watch how the penguins get back home from a day out at sea to feed their youngsters. Its very entertaining who they come ashore together and waddle to the nest. It can be up to 200 penguins arriving.
There is a small educatinal area and souvenir shop.
The visitors centre to the colony is 5 minutes from town. The colony is a conservation area, so you'll have to pay a fee to get in. Before the penguins come to shore, you'll get some information. It's really fun seeing the penguins come to shore. It's smart to make a reservation, because it can be busy.
Most nights the blue penquins from Oamaru return home to their burrows. For a small charge there is a hide where you can watch the action at dusk.
Unfortunately when we were there there was a heavy sea mist and most of the birds did not come back that night. We only saw about three!
The smallest penguin
Blue penguins are the smallest of the world's 17 species of penguin. Standing just 25cm high and weighing 1kg, they can be found around the coast of NZ and in Southern Australia.
The blue penguin has some habits which make it hard to view - they come ashore after dark and live underground in burrows.
Stay at homes
Blue penguins stay around their colony all year, although they may make long foraging trips in the non-breeding period. This means that there are always some penguins to see, although peak numbers occur during the breeding season (Sept-Jan).
Blue (or Fairy) Penguins are more common than the yellow eyed ones. Also, they come back from the daily fishing expeditions later, 9 or 10 o'clock at night.
Oamaru has built a big grand stand and now sells tickets to watch these little guys come back in on shore...
It is pretty interesting as they will land on the beach and then wait for a bunch of their friends to join them....
... and then watch as they waddle off single file to their nests in the rocks...
Quite the Spectacle...