Insight & Analysis

Intrepid explorer – a long way from home!

Published: Nov 2021

A beach in Christchurch, New Zealand, had an unexpected visitor last week – an Antarctic penguin that had travelled over 2,000 miles.

A Adelie Penguine running on a shingle beach

An Antarctic penguin has ended up 2,000 miles from home on a New Zealand shore. The intrepid Adélie penguin was spotted on the coast of Banks Peninsula in New Zealand after travelling a long way from its natural habitat in Antarctica.

The Adélie penguin is the most widespread penguin species common to the entire coast of the Antarctic, it’s only habitat. Standing at 46 – 71 cm, it has distinctive white rings surrounding the eyes and the feathers at the base of the bill and sporting the classic black and white tuxedo. Adélie penguins can swim at 5 miles per hour, so this little penguin’s journey would have taken over 400 hours!

This appears to be only the third time an Adélie penguin has landed on the shores of New Zealand. The bird, which was rescued by the Kaikoura wildlife hospital, was found to be underweight and dehydrated. But once topped up with fluids and fish smoothies, was released back into the wild on the east coast of the South Island to make the long journey home.

Experts are unsure why this penguin made its way to New Zealand, but the roots of the species may shed some light. Scientists studied the genetics of modern-day penguins and revealed that 22 million years ago penguins originated from the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and nearby islands of the South Pacific.

Could this little penguin be making its way back to its historic home?

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