Muriwai Penguin Project

Muriwai's 'southern bays'

Protecting Muriwai's Little Blue Penguin's

Trapping since 2011 (part of the Ring Fence Muriwai Project), in 2015 a small group of Meact Volunteers formed The Muriwai Penguin Project and put 26 penguin nesting boxes out into the four bays to the south of Maukatia Bay (known by some as Māori Bay), in the hope of attracting Korora, (little blue penguin), to nests and the results have been spectacular.

The Little Blue Penguin's plight

Little Blue Penguins used to nest in the dune environment of the main beach of Muriwai, but through predation by stoats, cats and dogs, and disturbance from the increasing numbers of humans they had largely disapeared from Muriwai. Nationally, due to threats like these, Little Blue Penguins are now categorised as 'declining/at risk" by DOC - you can find out more at the DOC website here.

Encouraging penguins back into those bays to the south is a long game, but the team are making progress with Korora starting to nest in the boxes. When intensive trapping in the bays, the team used to see predator tracks in the sand at low tide, and after two years of trapping, these tracks started to disappear.

Now, after three years, we’ve recorded zero predator tracks. That gives us hope that we’re making a difference. The team has also found evidence of grey faced petrels (Pterodroma gouldi) nesting in the cliffs, recently using a trained sniffer dog to find penguin and petrel burrows. Nesting seabirds Birds are pretty secretive really, so it was a huge morale boost to the team to find so many.

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How to get involved?

Access to the Southern bays is difficult and not encouraged by the public, however the best way to support this project is to spread the word about the Penguins and encourage Muriwai residents to join Meact and get involved. Pest free and Ring Fence Muriwai are also key projects that are helping to keep the Penguins safe from predators.

To find out more about this project please contact Mike Fitchett - mrwilderness@gmail.com