Pohatu is the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Francis and Shireen Helps have worked over the last three decades protecting White-flippered Penguins (Eudyptula minor albosignata), Canterbury's own variant of Australasian Little Penguin, from introduced predators. Because of the sensitive wildlife habitat only guided groups are taken into the breeding colony to view the White-flippered Penguins.
The best time for penguin viewing is the breeding season between end of August to the end of December. You can see moulting penguins in January and February, but starting the end of February through early April we do NOT have penguins. There are also some windows of excellent viewing opportunities from mid April to September when the birds return periodically from sea.
The best time to view penguins is in the evening on our Evening Penguin Tour; as the sun sets the Little Penguins return to shore after a day of hunting to meet their partner and or chicks.
This is a wonderful option for people who wish to take part in our monitoring program and learn more, in depth, about our conservation efforts. This gives you great insight into the life of a penguin and an opportunity to see the birds up-close.
First, you will set off with a walk around the colony to monitor nesting sites and make sure that our Little Penguins are doing well. Then, you will have the opportunity to spot the penguins undisturbed, socializing on the water and with darkness falling a very high likelihood of some returning to shore.
In addition, tours booked late November to February may have the opportunity to see up-close rehabilitation efforts such as feedings and swim therapy. (Call ahead to see if we have penguins in rehab.)
Things to bring:
*Self-drive option is available. Please note that you must have a 4WD vehicle and are comfortable driving on narrow, steep, windy gravel roads in the dark. Self-drives may either meet us in the bay or follow one of our vans. Please indicate on our booking where you will meet us when driving yourself.