NZ penguin underpass

This article appears on page 35 of the March 2018 issue.

In Oamaru, New Zealand, an underpass was built under a busy road in November 2016 to allow penguins to return to their nests from the ocean without the risk of being hit by cars. 

A 30- to 40-minute day tour run by Blue Penguin Colony (2 Waterfront Rd., Oamaru, New Zealand; phone +64 03 433 1195,, offered once an hour between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., takes visitors to the penguins’ nesting site in a converted rock quarry while most of the penguins are away in the ocean. NZD15 (near $11) adult and NZD8 child.

When the penguins return from the ocean at night, visitors can watch them from a general seating platform or take a “premium” tour that includes seating within six feet of the parade and a visit to the nesting site. Times vary; the penguins return around 5:30 p.m. in winter (June-Oct.) but as late as 9 p.m. in the summer (Dec.-April). NZD30 adult and NZD15 child, general seating, or NZD45/NZD22.50, premium tour.

The Oamaru colony is one of the largest colonies of blue penguins, also known as fairy penguins, the world’s smallest penguins.