New Zealand Wildlife 2: Yellow-Eyed Penguins

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New Zealand / Photo Log / Photography / Wildlife


June 28, 2018, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand. A one-day tour of Otago is like going to a gourmet restaurant, having the amuse bouche, and leaving — but there we were, and we were going to get everything out of our day that we could. Tony said it was very important that we get to the beach by 3:45.


“Because that’s when the penguins come home from work.”

“Oh. Really? 3:45? Exactly?”

“Within a very few minutes of that.”

And so we went.

We arrived a bit early and positioned ourselves, just in time for a nine-hundred-pound juvenile New Zealand sea lion to chase of off the beach.

Reminds me of an exchange in Avatar:

(Referring to a large and very threatening creature) “What about that one?”

“Run. Definitely run.”

We ran. (Perhaps a bonus post about that soon.)

I was just regrouping from rapid sea lion avoidance when Tony stage-whispered to me to move back about a meter and be very quiet. I did and I looked to the right. Plop plop. Plop plop. Plop plop. The commuter came up off the beach and plodded by like I wasn’t there. My shutter clicks bothered him not a bit.


A few minutes later, two more came marching by in step. And then another and another. About a dozen in all — some eyeing slumbering sea lions to whom they gave a wide berth, hoping they wouldn’t wake up.

According to Wikipedia, these are possibly the most ancient of all living penguins. There are only about four thousand of these determined creatures left. All in New Zealand and neighboring islands. They deserve respect.

(Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. RAW processing in DxO Pro; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Pingback: Yellow-eyed Penguins (NZ endemic) – Exploring Colour

    • Thank you. Very determined. They will need to gain the ability to swim farther in order to survive. As the water gets warmer and warmer, they’ll need to swim farther and farther.


  2. Karen Kueter says

    The whole imagery of running from the sea lions is still in my mind… then these penguins. Plop plop plop. Great pictures inside and outside of my mind

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And you gave them respect, I think. They are serious looking fellows. I haven’t heard about them – there are more penguin species than we imagine there are. Great story, Michael, and I love the timing of the second photo, with those left feet raised and those purposeful expressions. Wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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