There are 18 species of penguin worldwide, and 9 of them breed in New Zealand territory. The korora is the smallest of that unique species, 30cm high, and the only flightless seabird you are likely to see in the Hauraki Gulf.
They spend their days out at sea in search of small fish, squid, and octopus, coming ashore at night in convivial little groups called ‘rafts’, to roost.
On Rakino Island, some fortunate residents have korora nesting under their baches, or sheds, though they may debate the description ‘fortunate’ when they are kept awake at night listening to the squabbling of little penguins!
Little blues come ashore between January and March and must spend two weeks moulting, replacing all their feathers before they can head out to sea again. They are very vulnerable at this time to dogs, so this is a good time to ensure our dogs are on-leash in known penguin areas.
If you see a listless, scruffy little penguin at this time, just give them a wide berth, and leave them to get on with moulting.
The biggest threat to korora on land are introduced mammalian predators; rats, mustelids, feral cats, and dogs. Happily Rakino is predator free, so to keep the korora safe, we only have to ensure that cars drive slowly and carefully at night, when penguins may be on the roads, and that our island dogs are under control, and leashed when penguins might be in the vicinity.