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Tawaki—the Rainforest Penguin in New Zealand

Tawaki is the only penguin in the world that lives in the rainforest and not in the icebergs' surroundings

Best time: July–early December

Tawaki—the Rainforest Penguin
Tawaki—the Rainforest Penguin
Tawaki—the Rainforest Penguin

Tawaki Penguin also known as Fiordant Crested Penguin breaks the stereotype according to which all the penguins live near the coast surrounded by icebergs. This species chooses to inhabit rainforest areas. It is known as the world's second rarest species of penguin. In New Zealand, one may spot them nearby the Haast and Lake Moeraki starting from July to early December, when they have their breeding season.

The birds usually build nests around the rainforest tree stumps. Tawaki chicks have a great appetite and grow up very quickly. They normally reach the size of their parents when they are two months old.

Although Tawaki Penguins prefer to live in lush rainforests, it does not mean that they remain there throughout the year. The next 6 months after the chicks have grown up, all the penguins leave the coast and navigate the ocean. Only occasionally they may return to the land for a short moulting periods in February or March.

Practical info

Where do Tawaki Penguins inhabit in New Zealand?

Tawaki Penguins inhabit the rainforests of south Westland, New Zealand, near the Haast and Lake Moeraki. These penguins prefer living in the rainforest instead of typical icy environments, building nests around tree stumps. After the chicks have grown up, they leave the coast and navigate the ocean, occasionally returning for moulting periods in February or March. Show more

When is the ideal time for sighting Tawaki Penguins in New Zealand?

The ideal sighting period for Tawaki Penguins is during July to early December when they are breeding. During this time, they can be seen taking care of their chicks in the rainforests near Haast and Lake Moeraki in New Zealand. They may return briefly to land while navigating the ocean, taking a break from February to March for moulting. Show more

What makes behaviors of Tawaki Penguins unique compared to other Penguin species?

They are the solitary species of penguins that live in the rainforest instead of cold icy environments. During their breeding season, the chicks grow quickly, and the adults leave the coast and navigate to the ocean. Afterward, they may return to shore sometime later in February or March for moulting. They breed only once annually and exhibit these unique behaviors. Show more

What constitutes the diet of Tawaki Penguins and how does it alter during the breeding season?

Tawaki Penguins have a varied diet, including fish, krill, and squid. As breeding season commences, the penguins prolong their search for food, venturing at extended distances from their nesting areas, sometimes up to 80 meters deep. They provide the chicks with well-nourished food by regurgitating the consumed food into the chick's mouth that supports their optimum growth. Show more

How long do Tawaki chicks spend with their parents and where do they go afterward?

The Tawaki chicks spend two months with parents, growing rapidly. After this period, all penguins leave the coast and navigate the ocean for rebuilding their energy, taking a break from the land for the next six months. They may occasionally return to land for moulting from February to March before they return the next year; this behavior is distinctive for the Tawaki Penguin species. Show more

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