Curio Bay New Zealand and the Hoiho Penguin

Published by: Sandy H on 9th Jul 2017 | View all blogs by Sandy H

Curio Bay is a coastal embayment in the Southland district of New Zealand

best known as the site of a petrified forest some 180 million years old


Luck was on my side, the tide was out and I had the chance to explore the bay and the petrified stumps and logs that scatter the bay.

It was an incredible feeling touching something that is 180 million years old.....

The bay was deserted,  and I was standing gazing up above at a beautiful rainbow all was quiet and peaceful.

Suddenly some young lads began calling to me,  they were up above me on the cliff top,

"excuse me excuse me"  they called....


I turned and there right beside me not five metres away stood the most magnificent

Hoiho,  A yellow eyed male penguin.

He was standing so close to me on the rocks I think I could have reached out to touch him.  But new better than to do that.

I had no idea he was there,  I stood very still and quiet so as not to frighten him.

He shuffled his body and turned his back to me.

These were very pecious minutes and I knew I had to move slowly but quickly out of his way.

My last look at this beautiful bird and slowly I moved....

He began calling to his mate,  she came waddling across the rocks towards him.

I moved again,  eventually she waddled up to him and away they went, across the rocks into the safety of their hideaway.



The Hoiho Penguin


Several hoiho or yellow eyed penguins nest in the area around Curio Bay/Waikawa

They are one of the rarest penguins in the world with an estimated total population in New Zealand of between 6000 and 7000

The population has declined because of the clearance of coastal forest in which penguins nest.

They are also affected by introduced preditors, such as stoats, ferrets and dogs.

Which may disturb their nests.

Eggs are laid in September/October and both parents incubate and help rear chicks.

Birds usually leave the nest for the sea early morning, returning late afternoon/early evening.

The Hoiho is an endangered and unique species: a living symbol of the Caitlins.

Distinguished by its distinct yellow eyes and headband, the hoiho is a shy loner and a forest dweller.

Its Maori name imitates its shrill call and translates to 'the noise shouter'


These penguins have excellent eye sight and hearing and are easily frightened.


I feel very fortunate to have seen one so close and hopefully unintentionally did not frighten him too much.





  • LJ E
    by LJ E 1 year ago
    How lovely to have been to New Zealand. I have heard, from many, that it's a beautiful country.

    What a privilege to have been so close to a Hoiho. Moments like these are to be treasured, which I'm sure you do.
    Thank you for the information about the Hoiho.....very interesting.
    The closest I have been to a penguin was at the zoo/wildlife park a few years ago.....they are such endearing little (and some not so little) birds. I know they are a favourite of Phyl.
  • Mary B
    by Mary B 1 year ago
    So interesting Sandy, and what an amazing experience...... I'd not heard of the Hoiho but they sound fascinating. You are intrepid Sandy.... :)
  • Jackie H
    by Jackie H 1 year ago
    What a fabulous experience Sandy, a sure one if only you had had your camera....
  • Sandy H
    by Sandy H 1 year ago
    Thank you for your comments. to explain, I worked my way around the north and south islands at the grand old age of 51.
    I did sheep dipping, fruit picking/packing, window cleaning, jam bottling for the farmers markets, vine wrapping melon picking
    well all sorts really...)
  • Jackie H
    by Jackie H 1 year ago
    Wow Sandy, a real Jack of all trades, and what a fabulous Country to sample those trades in, it sure beats doing them in England...
  • Sandy H
    by Sandy H 1 year ago
    I apologise for the wrong information, the penguins are now less than 4,000

    My information was taken from my journal which is twelve years old!!
  • Phyl G
    by Phyl G 1 year ago
    An interesting blog Sandy, thank you for sharing.
  • Bill W
    by Bill W 1 year ago
    What an amazing and rare experience, Sandy, you are a lucky girl to have such a truly magic moment. Thank you for sharing it with us.
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