It's a bird that acts like a fish
Imagine a fish with feathers. It can't fly but swims with speed and grace. It rears its young ashore in a burrow and spends all day during the breeding season out at sea catching chick licks. Actually, you don't need to imagine. This mysterious creature exists. See for yourself at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Centre.
If you want to get up close and penguinal with nature's cross-over champs, this is the place. More than 80,000 people visit every year. They watch the little Blues swimming home with supper at sunset and see them scrambling up rocky cliffs - just metres away. By day, visitors wander through the colony, inspecting nesting boxes and (unobtrusively) watching chicks in the safe indoor nursery.
Weighing a kilo fully grown and dripping wet and standing 25 cms (10 inches) tall, the little Blue Penguin is the world's smallest. Learning more about this "bird that acts like as fish" (Manager Jason Gaskill's description) is a vital role for the Centre. It's a major base for scientists studying these quirky little fish/birds.
"We saw the whales, that's amazing. We swam with seals, saw dolphins, so we had to come here," - typical comments from British visitors at the Centre. The South Island now has a fantastic eco-trail, starting with Whale Watching in Kaikoura, dolphins in Akaroa, Oamaru's Blue Penguins then down to Dunedin's Albatross colony and Stewart Island. If you're doing any of it, you gotta do all of it. See you at the Centre! Open every day, all year!
OAMARU BLUE PENGUIN CENTRE: Waterfront Road, Oamaru Harbour
PHONE: +64 3 433 1195
More info from the Oamaru i-SITE, Cnr Thames Highway and Itchen Street