What we do

It all started over winter when some of us sat down with the realisation that tourism was going to be low this coming year. We started to think about environmental actions that we could be taking over the coming months and extend our conservation and the first one that popped in mind was reproducing the first Little penguin survey of the whole of Banks Peninsula that was lead by DoC in the year 2000 and 2001.

20 years on and with many conservation projects that have been happening and even more due to the announcement of Pest Free Banks Peninsula we were very keen on working on a data base line of penguin population health around the peninsula.

And so the massive project started, a project lead by Pōhatu penguins but supported by so many organisations, businesses, NGOs and volunteers which without who this project wouldn't be possible. The community support has been uplifting.

The saying "team work make the dream work" is more than accurate and appropriate in the situation ^-^

•To conduct a complete transect ground survey of Kororā/White-flippered penguins on Banks Peninsula.
•Areas previously searched in 2000 and known breeding areas, of which 16 are accessible by land and 174 are accessible only by boat, will be searched by teams of volunteers.
•All data collected will be entered into the penguins survey webpage.
•A paper will be written at a later stage.
Report written for Ecan to help with coastal management plan.
We have had many partners in this huge volunteer project and they are all listed below but we specifically need to thank some of them - from our awesome local dolphin boat operators’ Black Cat Cruises and Akaroa dolphins which volunteered their skippers and boats to take us to very remote coastal areas around Banks Peninsula to survey. Boat
Kayaks To amazing locals like Mafi at Onuku Farm hostel lending us her sit-on-top kayaks to get into these survey colony sites from the boats once we arrive at the destination.

The Antarctic Centre in Christchurch bused out the student volunteer army and fed them for 3 days while they stayed in Pōhatu and helped us survey.
Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust organised with Tony from Track Me to borrow 9 GPS devices so we could be safe with an SOS button and track where we were surveying for the map and have helped with expert advice on Health and Safety.

Orbica GIS company in Christchurch created an app for our phones so we could conduct the survey using it as a GPS and record data, also uploading to a 3D map of Banks Peninsula where you can see the information coming in off the phones and seeing where the penguins are, how dense the outer coast colonies are and the altitude they nest.

The Department of Conservation has helped support us with the health and safety documents and aimed at doing some of the tricky parts of the peninsula with their boat and staff.
The Blue Cradle foundation has been creating awareness and networking, helping us to bring the project altogether. Blue Cradle followed and filmed the surveying groups at different time of the survey and turned it into a short documentary - to be released during sea week 2021 - and supporting the science behind the survey.

So many locals in Akaroa and wider answered our calls for help on this project. The local support has been phenomenal.
Day out lyttleton

All parties involved are:
•Pōhatu penguins
•Blue Cradle foundation
•Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust
•Quail island trust
•Tina Troup
•Kate Whyte
•Robin Burleigh
•Rachel Hickcox
•Gary Brittenden
•International Antarctic Centre
•Black Cat cruises
•Akaroa Dolphins
•NZ penguins initiative
•Long look out tours
•Okain’s bay enhancement society
•Christchurch penguin rehab
•Lyttelton Port Company
•The Seventh Generation
•Mafi’s kayaks
•Akaroa, Duvauchelle, Bush Farm and  Okain’s bay schools
•Rapaki marae

Survey protocol:
•Team leader will have a handheld GPS which when path track is on can record the track you walk without you taking way points. This should always be on during the search
•Areas will be searched by teams. At least 1 team leader per 4 team members or less. Team members are grouped into pairs once burrow/nest is located.
•A pair will consist of the nest investigator and the recorder.
•Teams will walk in transect lines across the area of their survey section. Each person will be 5 to 10 metres apart, checking 2 to 5 metres each side of you right and left. Team leaders will determine vertical or horizontal grid method for the site
•Once a burrow/nest has been located, team stops. The pair closest to nest site are the nest investigator and data recorder. Investigator will relay findings and recorder will enter data into the smartphone app (see section below for more details)
•Team leader will be overlooking the work of their teams, making sure data entry is done properly and accurately.
•Recorded nest sites will be marked with biodegradable flagging tape or chalk for rocky areas to prevent double counting.
Screenshot 2020-11-03 144256-280

31st of October - Training day:
Penguin survey day
Dr. Matiu Payne from Koukourarata opening the meeting with a Powhiri and sharing stories of the Kororās.
Penguin survey day
Averil and Kevin presenting the whole project and introducing survey and H&S protocols
Penguin survey day
Once the theory finished we  headed to Pōhatu for some practical training.
Kevin presenting the webpage app to his team
Penguin survey day
Penguins can be anywhere and that is what Tina and Penny are finding out just now ^-^
Penguin survey day
Many sites are only accessible by boats and so some of us will need to kayak ashore, so get in the water team and self rescue yourselves.
penguin survey day
All volunteers and Team leaders getting ready top explore and look for penguin poop 

2d of November:
Akaroa dolphin and pohatu penguin
Averil leading the team and explaining the boundaries of the area.
Akaroa dolphin and pohatu penguinAveril getting lost and searching for her crew? Akaroa dolphin and pohatu penguinOh, no here is everyone!
Pohatu penguins and Akaroa dolphins
Averil guiding George and pointing at the areas that need to be surveyed and discussing  the best approach.
Blue penguin - pohatu penguins
Here is, one of our friend!
Akaroa dolphin and pohatu penguin
Part of the crew, enjoying lunch in a stunning environment of Akaroa harbor.
Pohatu penguins survey
Kayaking back and forth from beaches to boat.
Pohatu penguin team surveying
Always time for a selfie ^-^
Pohatu penguin steam surveying - Akaroa dolphins
Once ashore and all kayaks safely pulled ashore, Akaroa Dolphins keeps and eye on the team.
Survey team collecting rubbish  during penguin survey
And while we are at it, a bit of cleaning; you wouldn't believe how much rubbish the team found!

3d of November:
Pohatu penguin team member explaining protocols to the students
Pōhatu penguin team member explaining protocols to the students
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Using all senses to find penguins
Always enough time for some more expression.

4th of November:
Surveying of Little penguin - Pohatu penguin
All smiley at the beginning of the day!
Surveying of LIttle penguin - Pohatu penguin
I certainly can smell it she says, but how deep does it go!
Surveying of LIttle penguin - Pohatu penguin
At last, we're finishing with this section...

6th of November:
Boat and kayak for penguin survey
Getting ready for a boat and kayak survey day
Dragged kayaks
Let's speed up a bit shall we ^-^
Pohatu penguin team member surveying for penguins
Anyone around?
Pohatu penguin team member surveying
Although everything goes into an app Averil plays it safe and records everything on paper too.
Blue cradle crew
The Blue Cradle film crew stopping for lunch with smelly NZ Fur Seal and penguin all around. Won't stop for long? will we?
Pohatu penguin surveying Banks peninsula
Searching for penguins can bring you to many random places and you can get annoyed at the birds but the view from some spots are just stunning.
Penguin team surveying as part of Horomaka korora 2020
No we're not stranded, everything is ok?!
Kayaks towed
After a long day surveying it's time to come back so let's speed up again but take the time to enjoy the stunning scenery of the peninsula
Team Le Bons
After a long day and all wet gear dropped off, a moment to remember the awesome team.

9th of November:
Morning welcome and exploration at Rapaki Marae
Greeting and stories at Rapaki marae
Greeting and stories at Rapaki Marae by Kerepiti
Welcome on board Black cat cruise for the penguin survey led by Pohatu penguin
Welcomed on board the Black Cat  to go and explore Lyttleton harbour
Duvauchelle kids presenting the little penguins to other school
Duvauchelle school students presenting, to other schools, what they've learnt during their participation to the survey at Pōhatu.
Behind the scene
The behind the scenes of the fantastic documentary filmed by Blue Cradle and his team.
Always time to eat and learning
Learning session about micro-plastics during the journey.
Kids were fantastic with great ideas on how to stop using plastic: tell the government to stop producing it! ^-^

12th of November:
Black Cat Cruise taking our crew to remote places for the penguin survey
Thanks to Black Cat Cruises, we've been able to access some very remote places.
Vila ashore looking for penguins
Vila ashore looking for penguins.
Is she going to find any?
Starfish while surveying penguins
No that's not quite that Vila! ^-^
Little penguin hiding under a rock
Little penguin hiding under a rock, that's one extra nest to the total count.

Stunning scenery and cliffs around Banks Peninsula
But it is always good to take the time to enjoy the stunning scenery and cliffs around Banks Peninsula.

13th, 14th and 15th:
Some very long days with the Student Volunteers Army helping out surveying part of Flea Bay and Stony Bay.
Setting boundaries for a penguin survey
Boundaries set,
Get set, Ready, Go
Surveying penguins at Pohatu Bay Surveying penguins at Pohatu Bay
Noooooo, stay with us!!!!
Surveying penguins at Pohatu Bay
Leave me alone, I want to snooze
Lunch break while surveying penguins
Lunch break while surveying penguins
Surveying for penguins at Pohatu bay
No, time to go back out. Those penguins aren't going to count themselves.
Group photo fort he show
Group photo for the show
Survey crew, ready to goStudent Volunteer Army Crew, ready to go
Always time to cheers Always time to cheers at the end of the day to celebrate a good working day
Driving down to Stony bay to survey penguins
Driving down to Stony bay to survey penguins
Stony Bay penguin surveying
Neat views, is that going to be coastal cliffs surveying today?
Jess, anyone around?
Simple answer is "nope"
Surveying penguins
Let's get in line, ready and go again!
Out of the shrub
Victory, we're out of the shrub
Penguin survey
Who's tempted to jump in after such a long and warm weekend? ^-^

A gap between mid November to now. It is not because we have stopped surveying, on the contrary, we haven't stopped and are almost done.

We have had some fantastic sea-conditions at time that have allowed us to even have fun and explore some sea-caves and tunnels, here is one particularly great one at Pōhatu.
Survey map of Pohatu
12 sections, 91Ha of penguin habitat going from sea-level to over 200 meters altitude and 800 meters in land. those penguins have certainly make us climb up and down over the last few weeks.
Survey team member
But the views are fantastic.

Averil even went to Christchurch to the Xchange cafe to present the survey. This was organised by James and his team from Blue Cradle Foundation
Pohatu penguin team member at the xchange cafe Pohatu penguins team member at the xchange cafe Pohatu penguin team member at the xchange cafe
Blue Cradle team member at the xchange cafe Pohatu penguins and Blue Cradle team member at the xchange cafe Pohatu penguin team member at the xchange cafe
Credit of all photos to Ingmar Wein


Under a license from the Department of Conservation we can intervene when necessary and care for weak and injured birds.
Click play to discover the work involved.
Ever wondered if Little penguins were all the same or not? 
Check out this video to discover the difference between Blue and White flippered penguins.
An introductory video about the importance that marine birds play in our marine environment, and the importance of research allowing us to understand their behaviours and marine habitat use to better protect them.

Sea-week 2024.
Loads of fun with children's activities, costume parade and more.
Hope to sea you next year!

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Akaroa Marine Reserve and the 25th anniversary of the Pōhatu Marine Reserve, key stakeholders gathered on the 10th of March during Sea-week 2024 to commemorate these achievements for New Zealand marine wildlife.

Hear from Dr Rachel Hickcox about the importance of monitoring a penguin colony.