Penguin Adoption

The back scene of adopting a penguin

2021 - January 18th by Geraldine


“How can I adopt a penguin? What does that mean? What do I need to do? How much will it cost me?” are probably some of the questions you might have in mind when looking at our “Adopt a Penguin” program… In this blog you will be able to have an insight into the back scene of your adoption. But let’s first assist you with your adoption process…

Penguin and penguin house

What is a penguin adoption?

First things first: I know it might seem obvious to most but “adopting” a penguin is actually a symbolic adoption. Penguins are wild animals so they need to live in their own environment, catch their own food and interact with their own kind as long as they are healthy enough to do so. Actually, unless penguins are hosted in a zoo (which is a different situation) or in rehabilitation for a short time (under a special permit) minimal interaction with human beings is best. So I'm sorry to say, there will be no cuddling of cute penguins in this instance. J

Adopting a penguin in the Pōhatu colony is like a sponsorship, a donation towards our Conservation charity “Helps Pōhatu Conservation Trust” to help towards conservation costs.

Donations help cover a range of our conservation needs from:

  • Nesting box materials for penguins and other native wildlife
  • Penguin Rehabilitation: Penguin food, Vet bills, Rehabilitation facility maintenance.
  • Predator control: Materials and maintenance, Trappers wage.
  • Reforestation of Pōhatu’s covenants, Protected zones, Planting trees and track building.
  • Research projects.
  • Education for school groups.
  • Staff training, e.g. Trapping workshops, Penguin symposium, Rehabilitation workshops.

In exchange, you will receive a photo of the nesting box with the name you have chosen on it, receive updates (on demand) and a newsletter at each season. Because you are donating to a registered charity, you will receive a tax rebate for your donation.

Basically “Adopt a penguin” allows you to give a huge help to endangered species from the comfort of your home!


What do I need to do to adopt a penguin?

On our website, click the “Adopt” button at the top of the home page. Alternatively click on this link:

Once you are on the “Adopt” page you will have the choice between 3 types of donation (see on the right side on the screen). Hover on the 3 different penguin drawings and it will explain what each donation involves.

If are in Akaroa, you can also pop into our booking office and we can do it for you.

Choose your adoption pack: Digital or Snail Mail?

Blue penguin Adopt a penguin - Digital Pack: you will receive everything by email

  • A thank you letter,
  • A contribution certificate,
  • A fact sheet about Kororā/little penguins,
  • A poster of our Evening tour A4 to print if you wish

You can then decide to print the documents yourself or keep everything on your computer.


White flippered Adopt a penguin - Snail Mail Pack: you will receive everything by post already printed for you plus a couple of bonuses....

  • A thank you letter,
  • A contribution certificate,
  • A fact sheet about little penguins,
  • A postcard of our Evening tour A4

+ A Little penguin key ring

+ A cute penguin sticker

Chicks Donation: This isn’t an adoption but allows you to donate the amount you choose towards the same conservation efforts from $1


Once you have decided on your Package, simply click the “Sponsor” button. This will lead you to our secured online booking System. Click on “Buy Now” then you will have to choose your option again.


How much will it cost me?

You can adopt a penguin from $75 with the Digital pack. The Snail Mail is a bit more at $100, to cover the cost of printing and shipping.

You can also donate the amount to choose to help towards our conservation efforts from $1 (please note this isn’t an adoption)


Choosing a name for your penguin

Because you adopt a penguin in a specific nesting box in the colony, we display the name you have chosen on the box.

Before finalising your adoption, you can already provide us with the chosen name for your penguin/nesting box. This will allow you to receive the photo of your nesting box with the name displayed on it as soon as possible. Use the “Penguin Name” box when entering your details. If you haven’t decided the name at the time of the booking no problem, you can get back to us when you are ready. Maybe you would like someone else to choose (in the case of a gift for someone – see below).

Once the name is chosen, you can get back to us by email: with your name and the booking reference number. The name will be displayed on a wooden tag screwed on the box just like the photo below.

Penguin house  Penguin house new zealand

Please note that the name is for one penguin in the nest. Each nest can accommodate 2 adult penguins male/female. Example of penguin names we have received include: “Blue”, “Munchkin”, “Little Pengy”, “Puddles”, “Penny”, “Carter”, “Yoda”, “Aria”, “Guin Stefani”...

Adopting for someone else – Gift

It is becoming very popular to offer an adoption for a special occasion: Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas, Mother or Father’s Day… or just to be kind anytime in the year! Great for people who want a last-minute present as we can send everything (Digital Pack) within 48 hours. Please note than the photo with the label usually takes longer (can take up to a couple of weeks) for both packs.

In that case, tick the box “This is a gift for someone” then enter the giftee details. The certificate and thank you letter will be under the name of the giftee. The person paying the adoption will receive a separate letter with the tax rebate on it.

Specify in the “comments” box any details we need to know or a special message to the person that will be written on the “Thank you” letter.

For example: “Birthday present for my son. He will choose the name later…” "Happy Birthday to you, Jerry!"


Important advice:

“Snail Mail” Pack: If you want to make sure you get everything on time for a present, please allow a minimum of 4 weeks for the pack to arrive at your destination, especially if you live overseas and in particular around Christmas time!

Adoption certificate for Pohatu penguin


Everything is in our hands now!

Your adoption is now complete! Congratulations, you now belong to the family of Pōhatu Penguins’ donators!

As soon as we receive the name for your adopted nesting box, we create a wooden tag. Then, one of our guides will go in Pōhatu/Flea Bay to choose a nesting box in the colony and put the label on. We take the opportunity to check the nest so when we send you the photo, we can already tell you what is going on in the nest!

We will send updates on the whole penguin colony and our conservation work at different times in the year. To get updates on your own nest, you can email us at any time and just ask!

Setting up a label on a penguin house
Penguin box names

Labels ready to be fixed on boxes


Things to know:

  • The adopted nesting boxes are built by the Helps family, the Pōhatu Penguin’s staff along with the help of local schools, visitors, volunteers... These boxes provide nesting opportunities for the penguins to breed successfully as otherwise they tend to compete and fight over nests which can end up in breeding failures.
  • We have around 250 artificial boxes, along with about 950 nests in the bay but not all boxes are occupied. Our conservation work includes the monitoring of about 200 boxes. We estimate around 85% of those boxes are occupied each year. Sometimes penguins take a year off breeding or sometimes they just don’t choose the box. We provide, they choose…
  • An adoption lasts for a year. We will send you a reminder when your adoption is about to expire.
  • Come and visit the colony. We would be more than happy to show you your nesting box if you can make it to us. Different options for that:
    • Hop on one of our tours, all of them will take you to the penguin colony (30-45 mins drive from Akaroa). If you let us know before the start of the tour, we will make sure to take you to your nest. Some nesting boxes are very accessible and close to the homestead in Flea Bay, some are further away on the penguin track or uphill.
    • At certain time of the year. If you have a 4WD and are confident driving on steep, narrow, gravel road then you can be in touch to book a self-drive tour (daytime or evening tour) and make your way to the bay. Once in Flea bay, a guide will take you around the penguin habitat, on the private land of the Helps family for a 45 mins tour during daytime or an Evening tour, about 1.5 hour, starting time to be confirmed a day prior. Please note that this allows you to come at a discounted price as you self-drive, you might be by yourself or join a small group tour. Need to be booked in advance as this is the only way to access the penguin colony.


Our best adopters and supporters

Getting children involved with endangered wildlife and conservation efforts is something we value a lot in our philosophy.

Since we started the “Adopt a penguin” program we have had the pleasure to communicate with wonderful young people dedicated to protecting their world. We would like to honour these wonderful children in this blog and with their family's permission, we are sharing some of their best shots!

Screenshot 2021-01-21 134545-43

Daisy and her amazing penguin toy collection

Lambs and penguin chicks at Pohatu penguin

Daisy’s nesting box and the chicks “Puddles” well watched by the other inhabitants of the bay!

Screenshot 2021-01-21 134724-170

Sawyer and his family wearing their best tee-shirts!


Penguin house and penguins

Sawyer’s nesting box “Blue” and its occupants

Screenshot 2021-01-21 145202-276

Eden & Ryan did a project around penguins with the support of their mum. They have adopted a nest in the Pōhatu colony that they have named “Penny Pohutukawa”

They are sharing great ideas of activities with a penguin theme. Read their project by clicking on the link.


“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see...” Elijah Cummings