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Penguin Discovery


Tawaki - the Fiordland Crested Penguin

Tawaki, or Fiordland Crested Penguins Eudyptes pachyrhynchus are the second rarest penguin on the planet (after the Galapagos penguin). Only in the southwest corner of New Zealand's South Island can you see these birds. They are most accessible along the Lake Moeraki coastline.

 Penguins nest along the Lake Moeraki Coastline July through December

Fiordland Crested Penguins

Penguins nest along the Lake Moeraki Coastline July through December

Their total population is estimated at 2,000 pairs with about 10% of these found around Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki. While much of their lives is spent navigating the open oceans, they return each year to breed in coastal rainforest between July and early December.

Fiordland Crested Penguin, Lake Moeraki seacoast

Watching Tawaki penguins on Moeraki's wilderness beaches is a truly special experience, very different to seeing penguins in a zoo or on television. These are wild creatures and this is their realm.

From the Wilderness Lodge walk to Monro Beach, or join a Wilderness Lodge nature guide to several secret, protected sites and watch these delightful birds cross the beach from the Tasman Sea to their rainforest nests. Under a special Conservation Department guiding licence, every breeding season since 1989 we have offered guided trips to view penguins.

Imagine yourself sitting quietly on a remote beach as penguins emerge from pounding surf, hop across the sand & make their way into the rainforest....

In small groups we walk through towering rainforest to the coast and sit quietly by the shore. With eggs to incubate and, later in the season, hungry chicks to feed, adult Tawaki use the beaches as thoroughfares between their forest nests and offshore feeding grounds. Marvel at their comic antics and 'rockstar' appearance and capture a photograph to remember it all by. This is wildlife in the truest sense of the word.

Tawaki Penguin on the Lake Moeraki Coastline

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki is intimately involved in protecting the penguins and works closely with the Department of Conservation. Our trips are carefully run with and do everything possible not to disturb these birds. In 1994 the Wilderness Lodge ran a successful campaign to establish a Wildlife Refuge to protect penguin colonies from domestic dogs and ever since has patrolled the coast to ensure the area is kept dog-free. We also control introduced predators such as rats and stoats (weasel family) and monitor penguin breeding. The Wilderness Lodge is the only company licenced act as a guide to certain sensitive sites.

Photographers will find themselves captivated by these endearing birds

Those keen on photography may be interested in a day of Exclusive Guiding tailored around weather, lighting and tides to give you the best opportunities to capture these wonderful birds through your lens.


  • “An oasis on the West Coast”


    My wife and I went with family and friends to celebrate our anniversary. We stayed two nights in Arthurs Pass and another two nights in the sister lodge at Lake Moreaki. We were very impressed with th...


    SBF2, Houston
  • “Just the very best!”


    This is a wonderful place to stay on a visit to New Zealand's west coast. Husband and wife team, Gerry and Anne, are wonderful hosts - welcoming, informative and totally participative. The rooms are v...


    Jasperco, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • “Stunning scenery, comfortable lodgings and welcoming hosts.”


    A haven from which to bush walk or kayak before enjoying lovely food overlooking the river and forest. Hosts Anne and Gerry are passionate and knowledgeable about the area and guided walks or stargazi...


    Melbournepk, Melbourne, Australia

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Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki is located on the South Island’s West Coast between the Glaciers and Wanaka/Queenstown. It is a comfortable 5.5 hours drive from Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass and 3.5 hours from Queenstown Airport. We have driving notes available for the journey north or south.

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Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass is located on Highway 73 between Christchurch and the West Coast. It is less than 2 hours drive from Christchurch and the towns of Greymouth & Hokitika and a comfortable 5.5 hours to Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki. The TranzAlpine train stops in Arthur’s Pass and transfers to/from the lodge are available.

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