Penguin Papa and his ‘wee poppers’

We took a ‘Nature’s Wonders’ seal and penguin 4-wheel drive tour on the tip of 15-mile long Otago Peninsula.

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Upon reaching a secluded and privately owned beach (part of a working farm/eco tourism venture) our guide pointed out two yellow-eyed penguin chicks hiding in the scrub. Hello babies!

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These little guys are waiting for mum or dad to swim in from the sea and feed them. They are six to seven weeks old and have voracious appetites. Hurry Mum and Dad- our tummies are growling.

I spot dad (just a guess- male and female yellow-eyes have identical coloring) on the beach!

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He rests a bit; he’s foraged for fish and squid all day long, swimming 2-25 km off shore and diving up to 200 times per day. I’m beat!

Finally Dad is ready to head to the nest. It’s a long trudge through sand and dunes. I hope my babies are safe. (Only 20% of chicks survive to maturity.)

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Do you hear something?

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When he gets close to the nest dad makes a shrill cry. The Maori name for yellow-eyed penguins is ‘hoiho’ which means ‘noise shouter’.

Yoo-hoo! Papa's home!

Yoo-hoo! Papa’s home!

Can you find dad and chicks looking for each other?

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What did you bring us? I’m starved! Me too. I want cod. Me first! No me first! I want squid. When’s Mum getting home?

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They cross to another dune before dad starts feeding. Just let me get a beer and put my feet up-not!

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Finally- yum in my tum, dad.

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You can tell how special seeing all this was. Shy yellow-eyes are the rarest penguins in the world and are unique to southern New Zealand. In 1990 there were only 150 pairs left. After protecting some land (they will not come ashore if people are on the beach- I took these photos from a blind) and getting rid of possums, stoats and ferrets, the numbers have increased. In 2012 there were 442 pairs. For more yellow-eyed penguin info check out this link: