Tawaki | Fiordland Penguins

Tawaki | Fiordland Penguins

The Tawaki Project

Until recently, the enigmatic Fiordland penguin or tawaki, has been one of the least studied penguin species in the world despite being one of three penguin species on the New Zealand mainland. In 2014, the Tawaki Project started a long-term research program on the species investigating the species’ marine ecology across its breeding range.

We have teamed up with the Tawaki Project to continue their fantastic work into the future.

The research milestones listed below outline how we will work with the Tawaki Project to advance evidence-based conservation of the species.

Milestone NumberCategoryDescriptionTarget OutcomeETA
FP1DemographyDesign & conduct survey of Fiordland to establish species’ occupancy within fjords.Technical report & scientific publication2022
FP2DemographyWork towards establishing marked populations at representative sites, e.g. Jackson Head, Milford Sound, Whenua Hou and investigate feasibility of automated monitoring solutions.Automated transponder ID gates in place at representative sites within the species' breeding range including maintenance plans.2022
FP3DemographyEstablish national Fiordland penguin database to document population dynamics across all monitored sites. Open accessible Fiordland penguin monitoring database (web-based)2020
FP4DemographyWork towards the continuation DOC’s monitoring program at key sites throughout the species’ mainland range.Independently funded double count monitoring programme on Whenua Hou, Breaksea Island, Stafford & Jackson Head2022
FP5Marine EcologyCoordinate with universities/research organisations to ensure maintenance of research momentum to establish baseline ecological information.Research projectslong term
FP6Marine EcologyExamine species’ fjord ecology and suitability of fjords as buffer zones in the face of continuing ocean warming.PhD student supervision; PhD thesis & scientific publications2022
FP7Marine EcologyInvestigate role of Marine Protected Areas for species’ foraging success as a case study for MPA effectiveness.PhD student supervision; PhD thesis & scientific publications2022
FP8Marine EcologyWork towards an annual foraging monitoring program to assess how fluctuations in the marine environment determine population dynamics.Annual deployment of GPS dive loggers at sites representative of Fiordland penguin breeding distribution (i.e. West Coast, Fiordland, Foveaux Strait)long term

Latest Updates

Read about our progress towards our tawaki milestones from our latest report.

Full report available here.


The Tawaki Project is a long-term study of the marine ecology, breeding biology and population dynamics of the world’s least known, most enigmatic penguin species – the Fiordland penguin or Tawaki.

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