While the human kingdom froze their travel plans during lockdown, NZ’s iconic wildlife never stopped going with the flow. In fact, the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony has been given opportunities to spread its wings (well, flippers) further than ever before.
A live stream of the colony, as the world’s smallest penguins returned home for the evening, was broadcast initially to travel and trade agents across Japan, giving viewers unique access to these aquatic birds in their natural environment.
The stream will later be made available on the Tourism New Zealand website as a way for Japanese travellers to experience a unique and uncaged perspective of the penguin (or korora), at this increasingly popular and easily accessible natural wildlife attraction in New Zealand.
Situated a five-minute drive from the township of Ōamaru, the colony operates evening viewings, every night of the week, year-round, with peak season (August-February) welcoming over 200+ penguins coming in from the cold Pacific Ocean waters.
The Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony, which has been selected twice as a finalist in the New Zealand Tourism Awards for its’ success in environmental protection and research (2018/2019), will have its CO2 footprint calculated in the coming year. This will provide the colony with an emissions profile, and strategies for effective reductions—a cool little contribution to New Zealand’s ongoing transition to a net zero carbon economy.
The delightful animals will also be showcased as part of the Tourism New Zealand ‘Do something New New Zealand’ campaign, with a TNZ film crew visiting the colony to capture the evening penguin parade.
In addition, the colony has now been selected by Zurich University to be one of 20 sites across the globe (the only site within Oceania) to have a video installation observing and recording wildlife in their natural habitats.
The cameras, sent from the University, have been carefully installed under the guidance of the Penguin Colony’s Science and Environmental Manager Dr. Philippa Agnew, and imagery has already begun to be collected. The cameras will run for a year and with this extensive footage time-lapses will be created for each location.
The footage will be showcased in a newly designed walkable exhibition in Zurich synchronically alongside all the other videos collected to create an immersive experience. Along with the installations, information about the wildlife and environmental protection projects in each area will be shared. The aim of this project is to urgently raise awareness of climate change, and the profound impacts future generations will have to bear.
Of the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony’s global reach, Philippa said it was reassuring the colony was being noticed and extending it’s reach to different markets promoting an important message, “I’m proud of the fact we are becoming internationally recognised not only as a place people can see the penguins but for our research as well.”
To witness the penguins thriving the way nature intended is a testament to the strong conservation efforts made to aid NZ wildlife, and what has been achieved here in Ōamaru.