Grey Main School Feb 2017, Hokitika beach activity

Education plays a key part in the West Coast Penguin Trust’s activities.  We know that children can develop a lifelong value for nature particularly in the age range 6-10 if they are given the opportunity.  Not only that, but they love penguins and share their enthusiasm with their extended family and friends.


Penguin and Seabird Educational Resource

The Trust has developed a penguin and seabird education resource aligned to the NZ Curriculum especially for the West Coast but it will be of value for educators and children everywhere, particularly coastal areas of New Zealand, and whether at school, home or youth group.  (Scroll down for link.)

“Blue Penguins & Other Seabirds. Activities for exploration and action for schools and community groups” is aimed at children in the age range 5 to 9 but can be adapted for younger or older children.  The goal is for local people to learn about and take action for the wildlife in their own back yard.  Research has also shown that children gain essential values for the environment and a lifelong connectedness to nature in this age group.

Fun learning activities are included within the education resource, including games and arts and crafts. With all the resources on line, they are readily available to home school parents and students and indeed anyone with an interest in sharing a love for and interest in the coastal environment with children.

The project focuses on blue penguins but includes sooty shearwaters (both species are in Gradual Decline, 2005 NZ Threat Classification System), Fiordland Crested Penguins or Tawaki (Nationally Endangered) and Westland Petrels (Range Restricted), all in their natural habitat. The coastal habitat of these species on the West Coast has, as it has around NZ, been modified or disturbed by humans and their activities.

We welcome any feedback on the resource and we would also love to receive photographs and stories as you have a go at the various activities. Please send them to us at

Download the Education Resource

The resource is available for download as a PDF, after completing the form below.
This web-friendly version is 59 pages – 10.4MB.

If you would prefer a higher-resolution PDF and or a hard copy of the resource, please email

Intended usage

Organisation (if applicable)

Please note that, since publication, greater understanding of the reason behind the countershading, or dark/light general colour scheme of penguins noted on page 20, has been assessed by The Tawaki Project.  This excellent blog and short video links the countershading to thermoregulation, protection from abrasion, energetic reasons and social signalling:

Why are penguins black and white.


The LEARNZ videos that can be used in conjunction with the resource, can be found here:


Year 10 Ecology Curriculum

The Trust is also keen to connect to senior school teachers and students and has worked with Erica Jar at Buller High School, providing material for her Year 10 ecology curriculum classes. Those notes and lesson plans are available in a zip file, with grateful thanks to Erica:

Penguin Ecology Year 10 Lesson Notes (Erica Jar, Buller High School, 2017)

Other Resources

Coming soon…

For now, have a look at this great resource to help you identify tracks in the sand at your beach:

Schools taking action

Hokitika Primary School

  • Planting day to improve penguin habitat – link coming soon
Hokitika Primary School become penguin detectives
Hokitika Primary School become penguin detectives