Inspirational

What are black and white, and blue all over?

The unique feathered residents of Oamaru of course.

For an inspirational place to visit, make sure you put the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony on your list.

Spring is the perfect time to see the world’s smallest penguins and get an insight into their delightful antics.

The colony began when a small number of blue penguins started nesting in a rock quarry area at the edge of Oamaru Harbour in the early 1990s. Today it is Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction, attracting more than 75,000 visitors per year.

At peak season there are over 130 breeding pairs in the colony and an additional 130 breeding pairs in a special wildlife reserve nearby.

You can see the most penguins (up to 250) in November and December. From March to August there may be only 10 to 50 birds.

They arrive in clumps called rafts just before dark (around 5.30pm in midwinter and 9.30pm midsummer), and it takes them about an hour to all come ashore. Nightly viewing times are posted at the local i-SITE. Use of cameras is prohibited and visitors are advised to dress warmly.

Stands are set up on either side of the waddle route. General admission (adult/child $28/$14) provides a good view of the action but the premium stand ($40/$20), accessed by a boardwalk through the nesting area, will get you closer.

To understand the centre’s conservation work and its success in increasing the penguin population, take the daytime, behind-the-scenes tour (adult/child self-guided $10/$5 or guided $16/$8); packages that combine night viewing and the daytime tour are available.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, 2 Waterfront Road, Oamaru
For further information and booking details visit http://www.penguins.co.nz