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Kororā (Little Penguin) Breeding Season in New Zealand

Only 25 cm tall, lovely blue penguins waddle 1,5 km, swim 70 km and climb 300 m to lay eggs and feed their offsprings

Kororā (Little Penguin) Breeding Season
Kororā (Little Penguin) Breeding Season
Kororā (Little Penguin) Breeding Season

Blue penguin, known as kororā among New Zealanders, is renowned as the smallest penguin in the world. It grows up to 25 cm and does not weight more than 1 kg. Little penguins are distinguished by slate-blue plumage, white belly and paddle-like flippers which allow them to swim incredible distances underwater from 25 up to 70 km looking for dinner which is usually compounded of small fish, squids or crustaceans. At night after the strenuous day, they come onshore and sleep in the underground holes.

Kororās are extremely caring parents. Their breeding season begins in November and lasts through March, but long beforehand in May and June, they waddle nearly 1,5 km ashore to find a perfect nesting site. In the search for the suitable nursery, they may also climb 300 m. Many penguins prepare their nests in the burrows or caves, somewhere in the timber or rocky crevices, under the vegetation or near people's dwellings. For the first three weeks, thoughtful parents do not leave recently hatched chicks alone in the nest, and only one of the parents brings food to the nursery while the other one looks after the young. After three weeks both parents go hunting.

Blue penguins are found along the entire coast of New Zealand, but the largest colonies are located in Oamaru, Banks Peninsula, and Chatham Islands.

The best time to observe penguins' family is a ​warm breeding season. This time coincides with their moulting season, which means they can not swim and are forced to stay ashore.

Practical info

When do Kororā penguins start breeding in New Zealand, and how long does it last?

Kororā penguins in New Zealand start their breeding season in November and continue until March. To prepare for this, they waddle 1.5 km landward from May to June to find perfect nesting spots. The breeding season is essential for their survival, and its preparation period is much longer than most seabirds. Show more

Which locations in New Zealand have the biggest Kororā penguin colonies?

You can find the largest Kororā penguin colonies in New Zealand at Oamaru, Banks Peninsula, and Chatham Islands. These colonies are famous for their penguin viewing opportunities, making them popular among tourists. Several conservation organizations in New Zealand manage the interaction between people and penguins, ensuring the animals remain safe. Show more

How do Kororā penguins protect their offspring during breeding season?

Kororā penguins are diligent and nurturing parents. After hatching, one parent always stays with the chick while the other goes hunting for the first three weeks. After that, roles are reversed, with both parents taking turns hunting during the day and spending time with their offspring at night. Moreover, they guard their young against predators and bad weather, such as dogs, cats, stoats, rain, and sun. Show more

What is the swimming and diving capability of Kororā penguins?

To hunt for food, Kororā penguins swim long distances of between 25 to 70 km underwater, can hold their breaths for one minute, and swim at six km an hour. They typically dive 30 meters deep, but can go as deep as 60 meters. Their prey comprises of small fish, squids, and crustaceans, all of which they catch while underwater. Show more

When is the ideal time to see penguin families in New Zealand?

November through March is the ideal time to see Kororā penguin families in New Zealand, coinciding with the breeding and the moulting periods. During this time, they gather in large numbers, some of which allow tourists to view them in their natural habitat. However, the number of birds, their location, habits, and weather conditions play vital roles in the observing opportunities. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin