The Great Annual West Coast Blue Penguin Count will take place this year between 17th and 22nd October, when tides are low in the early morning.

If you ever think you would like to make time to get out to the beach for an early morning walk, now’s the time to do it with an extra purpose!

Checking the beach at Ruatapu for penguin tracks
Checking the beach at Ruatapu for penguin tracks

An early morning walk brings a variety of benefits:

  • a dose of daylight – helps to reset melatonin levels for a better night’s sleep
  • fresh air
  • exercise
  • connecting to nature
  • mental well-being
  • reminding you why you love the coast, and
  • helping to determine where there may be penguins.

It’s a huge advantage for the Trust to have recent records of the presence of penguins.  For example, when contributing to regional council plans or district council operations, we can make sure penguins are avoided and protected – with your help.

Hokitika beach footprints blue penguin track
Hokitika beach – blue penguin track

The October dates are chosen when blue penguins will be busy feeding chicks, and at least one parent will be going out pretty much every day to forage, leaving tracks on sandy beaches before dawn, and returning after dark with food.

The dates are narrowed down according to the tides so that a morning walk will be well before high tide and any penguin tracks should be clearly visible on the freshly washed canvas of a sandy beach.

blue penguin footprints
Blue penguin footprints

The more penguin track trackers the better and we invite you to take an early morning walk on your beach during this year’s Great Annual West Coast Blue Penguin Count, and record any tracks on the i-Naturalist app.

Read more here including what to look for and how to record any tracks that you see using your smart phone.