Conserving penguins in New Zealand

Protect endangered penguins and their eggs from predators such as cats, dogs, stoats and weasels by building predator-proof nesting boxes.

About this project

The Blue Penguin Colony where you will be helping has two sites, each home to a population of approximately 700 penguins. You get to enter the colonies, and work on vegetation and habitat restoration programs. This could involve anything from planting new trees to clearing undergrowth, to assisting with the construction of new nesting sites, to working on erosion protection. Predator protection work may also need to be done.

The work is quite intense and may involve heavy lifting and gardening. There is no direct interaction with the penguins themselves as those activities are restricted to trained staff.

Children are more than welcome and quite often there are up to 40 kids working on habitat projects at any given time.

Main volunteering activities:
  • Planting tree saplings
  • Habitat restoration – weeding, clearing undergrowth
  • Building predator proof boxes
  • Creating new nesting sites
  • Erosion protection
Key information:
  • Volunteering work typically lasts for 2-3 days
  • Involves approx. 5-6 hours of helping each day
  • There is work to be done all year long, with June to September being the prime time for habitat and environmental work as there are fewer penguins on land during the day during these months.
  • This volunteering trip blends well with nearby sightseeing and relaxation activities
  • This project is also family-friendly, children from age 5 can participate
Nearby fun activities
  • Moeraki Boulders
  • Steampunk
  • Beaches
  • Wine tasting
  • Kayaking, rafting
  • Cycling
  • Nature walks
Successes to date:

The site where the 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, and Forest & Bird fought for the area to be set aside as a protected breeding area for the penguins. In 1993, following this success a penguin-monitoring programme began.

  • A rehabilitation facility caring for sick or injured penguins has been created
  • Penguins outside of the colony are monitored
  • Predators at a nearby Yellow-Eyed Penguin colony are also trapped
  • Education and advocacy programmes teach others about the importance of conservation
  • An underpass underneath a local road has been constructed to allow penguins to cross safely
This project is for you if:
  • You want to help conserve endangered penguins
  • You are passionate about the environment and wildlife
  • You can handle the cold and rain during the important winter months
  • You would like an experience that has a tangible outcome
  • You are happy rolling up your sleeves and getting involved

This trip blends well with a lot of sightseeing and relaxation activities. Nearby activities: Steampunk, Moeraki Boulders, wine tasting, cycling.

Suggested Trip Itinerary

Penguins and Paradise – 15 Days

Example Price: US$17,990 per adult

This adventure not only enables you to bond as a family and help secure the future of penguins; you also get to be in awe at the splendor of the South Island: charming Christchurch, encountering whales and dolphins, kayaking in the clear waters of Abel Tasman, take a heli flight up to hike on a glacier, fly, hike and jet boat, explore Queenstown, and fly to Milford Sound…all in luxury.

Trip Highlights

  • Securing the future of blue penguins by protecting their habitats from predators
  • Spot whales by helicopter
  • Spot dolphins…even swim with them
  • Cruise and kayak in Abel Tasman National Park
  • Heli-hike to a glacier
  • Fly, hike and jet boat near Wanaka
  • Get your thrills in Queenstown
  • Heli flight to Milford Sound and glaciers

Price Includes

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Expert local guides
  • Breakfasts and meals as specified
  • Volunteering costs
Note: Price excludes international flights

Sample Day by Day

  • Day 1: Arrive Christchurch, met at airport, transfer to your coastal luxury hotel in Kaikoura: Hapuku Lodge, dinner
  • Day 2: Heli-flight to spot whales, then boat trip to see or swim with dolphins, dinner
  • Day 3: Drive through Marlborough to Motueka, stay at Split Apple Retreat, dinner
  • Day 4: Kayak and cruise in Abel Tasman National Park, gourmet lunch on board, dinner
  • Day 5: Drive down to Hokitika, stay at Rimu Lodge
  • Day 6: Transfer to Franz Josef, heli-hike on a glacier, stay at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, dinner
  • Day 7: Flight, hike and jet boat ride; drive on to Wanaka, stay at Silverpine, dinner
  • Day 8: Drive to Queenstown, rest of day at leisure, stay at Matakauri Lodge, dinner
  • Day 9: Heli-flight to Milford Sound and glacier landing. Rest of day at leisure to enjoy other activities, such as bungee jump, wine tasting, jet boat ride, lake cruise, Lord of the Rings 4WD tour, dinner
  • Day 10: Drive to Oamaru, stay at Pen-y-Bryn, dinner
  • Day 11-13: Help maintain penguin habitats, lunch, dinner
  • Day 14: Drive to Christchurch, city tour, stay at The George, dinner
  • Day 15: Transfer to airport and fly out
Note: This is a sample itinerary only

Note – this is purely a sample itinerary, designed to give you a flavour of the country, local volunteering projects, and nearby sightseeing activities. We delight in crafting trips to your exact preferences. Inclusions and exclusions may vary accordingly. You can customize this trip to suit your specific requirements, in fact any aspect of the itinerary can be altered, from excursions to accommodation.

Here are some suggestions to customize this itinerary:

  • Take an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound
  • Hike one of the ‘Great Walks’ and stay in comfortable lodges
  • Explore the Marlborough wine country
  • Spot kiwi birds in the daytime on Stewart Island
  • Stay in the mountains at a lodge accessible only by helicopter
  • Go skiing (July to October)
  • Head to the North Island for geysers, beaches and more wine

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