The site where the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony now operates was previously a rock quarry and the presence of the penguins was seen by some as a nuisance. Members of the community, Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird and Waitaki District Council fought for the area to be set aside as a protected breeding area for the penguins. In 1993, following this success the tourism operation was established and a penguin-monitoring programme began.
Protection of the penguins is a primary goal at the focus of our operation and we protect the penguins in three key ways:
- We provide nesting boxes and maintain their nesting habitat
- We set traps to catch introduced mammalian predators that attack the penguins, their eggs and chicks
- The physical structure of our operation is designed to reduce disturbance to the penguins and allow them to come and go as naturally as possible.
The more we learn about the penguins, the better chance we have of protecting them. The Colony fully funds its own penguin monitoring and research programmes. We also have on our staff one of New Zealand's leading little blue penguin experts.
Our facilities include a Research Laboratory and Office where our scientist works and where we can host visiting researchers and students.
We help to look after little blue, and other types of penguins:
- We have a rehabilitation facility where we care for sick or injured penguins of any kind
- We monitor penguins outside of the colony at other areas
- We trap for predators at a nearby Yellow-Eyed Penguin colony
- We have education and advocacy programmes to teach others about the importance of conservation
- We worked with the local council and contractors to construct an underpass underneath a local road to allow penguins to cross safely.