Adult little blue penguins in moult
Image: Brent Tandy | Creative Commons


DOC is asking beachgoers and their dogs to give korora/little blue penguins space when they come ashore to moult.

Date:  15 February 2024

Korora adults come ashore between November and March to shed their feathers and grow a new waterproof coat, which takes about two to three weeks. They are especially vulnerable to predation from dogs during their moult, as they cannot swim.

Bruce McKinlay, Technical Advisor Ecology at DOC, says not to worry if you see scruffy penguins, but to keep yourself and your dogs away from them.

“DOC often gets calls about sick-looking penguins at this time of year, but they’re almost always moulting,” says Bruce. “While it doesn’t look pretty, this is a natural part of the bird’s life cycle, and they grow a new waterproof coat within two weeks.

“The best thing to do is leave them be, and ensure they are undisturbed during their moult.”

While korora are the most common sight for moulting, other species like crested penguins/ tawaki and even adelie penguins may also be spotted coming ashore in some areas.

You can help to keep penguins safe by leashing your dog around penguin areas, keeping dogs away from nests, and warning others nearby of the location.

If you see unleashed dogs in penguin areas, please contact your local dog warden. Or, if you see people harassing penguins, call

  • 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)
  • or contact your local DOC office.


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