Yellow Eyed Penguins

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Yellow Eyed Penguins

One of the rarest penguins in the world calls New Zealand’s Otago Peninsular home. These birds are known for their distinctive yellow eyes and are also known as ‘Hoiho’ in Maori.

Appearance

Yellow-Eyed Penguins grow to around 75 cm and weigh between 5 and 6 kg. These penguins when young are covered in thick brown down followed by feathers and then when around 14-16 months old their adult plumage comes in.

Adults have a distinctive band of yellow feathers around their heads and eyes, and of course, the yellow eyes that easily identify their species. Their bills have a red-brown tip and upper and are long and thin.

The body of the penguin is a grey-blue color, while its belly and under the flippers is white. Male Yellow Eyed Penguins tend to be slightly larger in size than females.

Diet

Yellow-Eyed Penguins exist on a diet of fish, including sprat, red cod, and squid. They hunt during the day and travel distances of between 5-25 kilometers on average from the shore.

Hoiho is excellent divers and can go down to a maximum of about 150 meters in any one dive, but are more typically found at a depth of between 30-60 meters.

Breeding

This penguin's breeding behavior differs from that of other penguin species in that it chooses to nest privately away from large groups.

Nests are usually set back from the shoreline in dense vegetation or bush and consist of shallow bowls filled with twigs, grass, and other bits and pieces collected from the surrounding area.

The Hoiho live, on average, for about 8 years, though there have been instances where these birds have lived over 25 years.

Yes They Are An Endangered Species

Hoiho is officially classified as a globally endangered species and is in fact one of the most endangered penguin species in the world.

Their existence is being threatened by humans, stoats and ferrets, cats, dogs, and even pigs in some cases. Natural water-bound predators include seals, barracouta, sharks, and sea lions.

This human-induced predation combined with natural predator behaviors has led to a significant decline in numbers of breeding pairs and a continued decline in population numbers, particularly in recent years.

For more information on the Yellow-Eyed, Penguin, and conservation efforts see the DOC website, or to donate to help save these wonderful sea birds get in touch with the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust.

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Contact

If you have any questions or need help or advice about rental cars or your New Zealand travel plans we’re here to help you. Please contact us

New Zealand Free Phone: 0800 800 956

Australian Free Phone: 1800 771 302

Other international enquiries. Find your nearest New Zealand rental cars branch.