Penguin and chick - tawaki

Tawaki wrapped up their breeding season for 2022 in late November, and it proved to be a good year.

The Trust aims to monitor nests for breeding success and to determine whether there is any predation by stoats.

As was the case with kororā in the Buller region, tawaki breeding started 2-3 weeks later than normal this season. However, it seems that food was abundant for tawaki this year, with chicks rapidly gaining weight and adults observed going on short foraging trips, presumably returning with full bellies.

Although the numbers of breeding pairs were lower this year compared with previous years, both the Jackson Head and Knights Point colonies recorded a high rate of breeding success, with only one monitored nest at Knights Point failing at an early stage.

As with other crested penguins, tawaki lay two eggs and the norm will be to raise one chick, with two chicks surviving and fledging only in exceptional circumstances with readily available and abundant food sources close by.  Success is therefore measured against a standard of one chick fledged per nest or 100%.

We’ll add an update from Gorge River soon.

Site Nests monitored Chicks seen at nest Breeding success
Knight’s Point 11 10 91%
Jackson Head 14 14 100%


Trust Tawaki Ranger, André de Graaf, working at Jackson Head, reported:

“Two of my chicks retreated into impenetrable rock caves but were heard on most monitoring visits so have been assumed to fledge successfully.”

“Overall a very successful Tawaki breeding season at Jackson Head with a confirmed 85% chick success rate and an unconfirmed by sight but ‘opinioned’ 100% single chick per breeding pair success rate this year!”

With regard to the presence of stoats and threat to tawaki eggs and chicks, André noted:

“a large increase in stoats anecdotally around Haast in November and December, including high numbers in the kiwi sanctuary, missed the start of the penguin breeding season.”

Trust Tawaki Ranger, Polly Hall, working near Knights Point north of Haast, reported no sign of stoats and no evidence of predation, noting that landscape scale predator control had been undertaken by DOC in that area in late August, just in time for the breeding season.

Penguin - tawaki - on rocks