White-flippered penguins on Quail Island

The endangered white-flippered penguin (korora), a sub-species of the little blue penguin only found around Banks Peninsula (including Quail Island) and Motunau Island, breeds on Quail Island every year. Ten penguin boxes were constructed by scholars in the carpentry class at Cathedral College and placed on the island to encourage nesting in 2000.

Not long after that the Trust embarked on a pest eradication programme (using trap boxes supplied by the College) and the first penguin survey in 2001 after predator control measures were in place revealed eight active burrows (up from five in 1999). A second survey in November 2003 found 32 active burrows. The significant increase over a two-year period suggests that the pest eradication efforts led by Trustee, Mike Bowie of Lincoln University, has made a significant difference in providing a safe habit for breeding pairs of blue penguin.

A further 20 penguin boxes were placed on Quail Island in 2007 – the year the penguin population on the island reached a peak of 41 active burrows. Active burrows were down to 29 in 2010, following the first earthquake – although the low count could have been compounded by missing burrows in the long grass. The annual surveys have not been carried out since the February 2011 earthquake due to risk from rock fall.

A number of nest boxes were damaged or destroyed by rock falls during the 2011 earthquakes. The Trust is continuing to place new nest boxes on the island.

White-flippered (korora or blue) penguin in a nesting box on Quail Island
A number of the penguin boxes on Quail Island were damaged in the 2011 earthquakes
Trust volunteer, Andrew Harris, delivering penguin boxes to Dampier Bay for transportation to Quail Island
An ideal penguin box site on Quail Island.
Volunteers carry new penguin nesting boxes built by Bunnings to the island on 15 July 2015.

Click here for some other ways to help the Trust and further eco-restoration on Quail Island.

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