Fiordland crested penguin conservation
The current tawaki population is between 2,500 and 3,000 breeding pairs and has been in decline since the 1950s.
Human disturbance and predation
Tawaki are highly susceptible to human disturbance when nesting. There is a concern that increased nature tourism in South Westland and Fiordland may disturb breeding birds and cause nests to fail.
Stoats and dogs pose a serious risk to tawaki colonies. Stoats prey on both chicks and sick or injured adults, while a single dog has the potential to wipe out an entire colony.
You can spot tawaki at Munro Beach, near Lake Moeraki 30 km north of Haast. A walking track leads from Lake Moeraki to the beach, and guided tours are conducted from the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge. Tawaki can also be seen in Milford Sound and at Jackson Bay.
The best time of year to see tawaki is during the breeding season from July to November. They can sometimes be seen during the moulting season from mid-January to early March.
Tawaki are very timid, so do not approach birds, nests or areas of beach where penguin tracks are common.
You can help
Keep our penguins safe
- Leave penguins alone. Usually scruffy birds are simply moulting.
- Put your dog on a leash around penguin areas.
- Keep your dog away from nests, and warn others nearby of the location.
- Donate your time or money to help penguin protection groups, such as the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and Forest & Bird.
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.
Help protect our native birds
When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
- Check for pests when visiting pest-free islands.
- Leave nesting birds alone.
- Use available access ways to get to the beach.
- Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
- Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
- Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
When out with your dog
- Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
- If you come across wildlife put your dog on a lead and lead it away.
- Warn other dog owners at the location.
- Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.
Other ways to help
- Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
- Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
- Set predator traps on your property.
- Put a bell on your cat's collar and feed it well.
For more information about the Fiordland crested penguin/tawaki contact: