Eudyptes pachyrhynchusFiordland penguin

Geographic Range

Fiordland Penguins Eudyptes pachyrhynchus are found from the southwestern coast of the South Island of New Zealand, to the nearby islands of Stewart and Solander.

(Stonehouse 1975; Simpson 1976)


Fiordland penguins have a pelagic aquatic habitat (open ocean). They will spend up to 75% of their lives in the ocean during the winter, as a result barnacles often attach themselves to the penguins tail. The other 25% of the Fiordlands life is spent on secluded land areas during the breeding season.

(Lynch 1997; Sparks and Soper 1987)

Physical Description

The Fiordland Penguin, also known as the thick-billed penguin, has an average length of 55cm (21 in). The head and body of this penguin are black, with the exception of its white front and the white markings on its cheeks. Fiordland Penguins have a crest of brilliant yellow feathers which are visible at the base of the bill and extend over the eye. Fiordland Penguins are monomorphic, that is the male and female look alike. Fiordland Penguin chicks have gray-brown backs with white fronts.

(Barham 2000; Stonehouse 1975; Lynch 1997)

  • Range mass
    2000 to 5000 g
    70.48 to 176.21 oz


The Fiordland Penguin typically locates its breeding site inland from the coast (distances vary), with some nest sites at areas up to 100m above sea level. Nesting in loose colonies, Fiordlands locate their nests seperate and out of sight from one another. Unlike most crested penguins, the Fiordland Penguin does not nest in the open. Fiordland nests can be located in caves, under logs, at the base of trees, and under bushes (particularly away from sand flies).

Fiordland males return to the nesting sites in July, two weeks before the females. Shortly after the females arrive they mate. Soon after, the female Fiordland will lay two pale-green eggs, which incubate for 4-6 weeks. It is unusual for both of the eggs to hatch, but when they do, the parents are unable to gather enough food for both chicks. The result is the death of the smaller sibling. For the first 2-3 weeks of the chicks life, the male will stay and guard the nest while the female retrieves and regurgitates food for her young. In a couple of weeks both parents will search for food while leaving the chicks either alone or in loose creches (breeding groups). At about 75 days old, the Fiordland chicks will moult, and go to sea.

(Simpson 1976; Barham 2000)


The Fiordland Penguin resides in the ocean during the winter. Living there alone for many months, the Fiordland demonstrates its solitary lifestyle. In July, the Fiordland travels to land and dwells there for the breeding season. In the day time, this shy and timid penguin hides at its nesting site, maintaining seclusion from outsiders. At night, the Fiordland Penguin is active (nocturnal).

(Barham 2000; Sparks and Soper 1987)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Fiordland Penguins feed in coastal waters, particularly during the breeding season. Fiordlands have a diet consisting of crustaceans, small fish, and squid. (Barham 2000; Sparks and Soper 1987)

Conservation Status

In the mid 1980's, it was estimated that there were 5,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs of Fiordland Penguins. Currently, there are an estimated 1,000 to 2,500 breeding pairs. The populations are upset by introduced predators such as ferrets, skuas, and wekas. Natural predators include fur seals, stoats, and larger predatory fish. (Barham 2000; Stonehouse 1975)

Other Comments

The Fiordland penguin is sometimes confused with the Snares penguin. Although they are nearly identical, the penguins have two distinct differences. The Fiordland penguin has white markings on its cheeks, and the Snares penguin does not. The two penguins also have different breeding cycles. Even though they both occupy the New Zealand area, they are reproductively isolated and do not interbreed. (Peterson 1979; Stonehouse 1975)


Tricia Braswell (author), Fresno City College.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Barham, P., B. Barham. 2000. "Pete & Barbara's Fiordland Penguin Page" (On-line). Accessed 12/17/07 at

Houston, D. 2000. "Fiordland crested penguins in New Zealand" (On-line). New Zealand Penguins. Accessed 12/17/07 at

Lynch, Wayne, 1997. Penguins of the world. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books Ltd..

Peterson, R. 1979. Penguins. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Simpson, G. 1976. Penguins: Past and Present, Here and There. London, U.K.: Yale University Press, Ltd..

Sparks, J., T. Soper. 1987. Penguins. New York City, New York, USA: Facts on File Publications.

Stonehouse, B. 1975. "Fiordland, Eudyptes pachyrhynchus" (On-line). Accessed 12/17/07 at