Fiordland Crested Penguins

5 Interesting Facts about Fiordland Crested Penguins

The ‘Fiordland Crested Penguins’ also known as ‘Eudyptes pachyrhynchus’ (Fiordland Penguin) or in Māori, ‘Tawaki’ or ‘Pokotiwha’, the ‘thick-billed penguin’ and also the ‘Victoria penguin’ is often spotted when on one of our overnight cruises in Doubtful Sound much to the delight of our passengers too as they are not found everywhere and in fact their numbers are decreasing worldwide.

As a result we often get asked lots of questions about them and thought we’d answer some of the more commonly asked ones here for you in case you too would like to learn more about this rare but fascinating bird.

Some typical questions we get about Fiordland Crested Penguins:

  1. Where do Fiordland crested penguins live?
    The Fiordland Penguin nests in colonies among tree roots and rocks in thick forested areas commonly found in South Island and Stewart Island in New Zealand. (2)
  2. How and where do they breed?
    Breeding takes place along the shores of the West Coast of the South Island around Fiordland, a place called the Foveaux Strait, on Stewart Island and also its surrounding islands. (3)

    The males arrive at a site they select around late June, early July ahead of the females who tend to arrive two weeks later. After mating they typically lay two pale green eggs (one normally larger than the other) amongst stones, trees roots or in small holes in the ground.

    Incubation lasts for around 4-6 weeks and once the young have hatched the male tends to be the guy who stands on guard whilst the female goes off to catch food which she then regurgitates to feed the chick.

    After the 10 week mark the chick moults and leaves the nesting site returning to breed after 5 years have passed. (5)

  3. What do Fiordland crested penguins eat?
    The penguin primarily eat krillfish (mainly red cod or hoki), and arrow squid. To catch their food they take short dives to rummage around the sea bed and sand. (1)
  4. How big is a Fiordland penguin?
    This particular species is a medium-sized, is a yellow-crested, black-and-white and grows to approximately 60 cm (24 in) in height and weighs in at around 3.7 kg, but can go up to 5.95 kg in weight. (3) Not too far off a small pack of potatoes at the supermarket we thought!

    In fact if you would like to see some more pictures of Fiordland Penguins, the NZ Birds Online have some good ones where you can see what the young look like, some of them nesting and even the greeny-brown eggs they lay. Goto:

  5. Are Fiordland penguins endangered?
    According to the ‘Encyclopedia of Life’ they are vulnerable and their numbers of decreasing worldwide. (5)

    In fact there are approximately only 3000 breeding pairs left in the world! (6) At last nest count there were 2,260 left in New Zealand. (7)

a cruisey fiordland crested penguin

Come cruising in Doubtful Sound with the Fiordland Crested Penguins – In fact this one looks pretty ‘cruisey’!

Please go to to find out more information.