West Coast Penguin Trust

Every adult Fiordland crested penguin/tawaki adult tee sold gives $5 to the West Coast Penguin Trust.

"The West Coast Penguin Trust conserves Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki), blue penguins (korora), other threatened seabirds, and their habitat on the West Coast of the South Island.  


 Photo credit: Thomas Mattern (left), Robin Long (right)

Tawaki are listed as Nationally Endangered and are likely to be the second rarest penguin in the world and probably the most enigmatic and least understood.  They are listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable and are the only crested penguin to inhabit the main islands of New Zealand. 

The West Coast Penguin Trust is monitoring Fiordland crested penguins in South Westland to establish whether, and if so which, predators may be contributing to a decline of the population so that targeted action can be taken.  In addition, the Trust is collaborating with penguin scientists, Dr Thomas Mattern and Dr Ursula Ellenberg, who are researching the foraging strategies of tawaki in their varying marine habitats through the Tawaki Project.  

Tawaki Fiordland Crested Penguin Conservation | Tumbleweed Tees

 Photo credit: West Coast Penguin Trust (left), Karyn Roberts (centre and right)


After two seasons of both studies (2014 and 2015), it seems that predators are not a major contributor to the decline, whereas conditions at sea are more likely to play a significant role.  However, the research will continue so that robust conclusions can be drawn and then practical solutions identified and implemented.  

One further part of the picture is provided by penguins that are found on beaches away from their breeding areas.  Sometimes they may just be hanging out, but, as we have seen during July 2016, a number of juvenile tawaki have been turning up emaciated or starved to death, providing more clues to their tough life at sea. 

 Photo credit: Inger Perkins

The Trust will continue to apply good science to understanding the issues so that resources can be directed to where they will make the most difference for these precious penguins. 


Support the West Coast Penguin Trust and buy a Fiordland crested penguin/tawaki adult t-shirt.