Frequently asked questions

Best in the wild and with a guide
Penguins are best viewed in the wild where their natural behaviour can be observed and their environment appreciated. There are many opportunities to see penguins in the wild and in more than one way. Some species are the basis of large scale tourism ventures that may offer grandstand seating while others require difficult trips to remote sub-antarctic islands to catch a glimpse. Guided trips often offer the best opportunity to get the best view of the penguins without causing undue disturbance and visitors learn more about the species and their environment than they would alone.

Be aware that it in some areas penguin viewing is seasonal - check to make sure that you arrive at the right time of year!

New - Penguin viewing sites in Google Earth! Download this file and open with Google Earth (NZ only sites just now).

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New Zealand
Blue, yellow-eyed, and Fiordland crested penguins can be relatively easily viewed at various sites around the South and Stewart Islands. In the North Island, blue penguins are the only species that can be viewed. To see the other crested penguins, a voyage to a sub-antarctic island is required.

[Blue]  [Yellow-eyed]  [Fiordland]  [Other crested spp]

Blue (or little) penguins are the only species present in Australia. The largest and most popular viewing facility is at Phillip Island near Melbourne, but there are a number of smaller less formal viewing sites along the southern coast and on Tasmania.

[Phillip Island]

South Africa
Southern Africa is home to the African or black-footed penguin. The Boulders Beach in Simons Town is one of the best places to see African penguins.

[The Boulders]

Seeing Humboldt penguins nesting under cacti on a island at the edge of the Atacama desert firmly dispels any lingering notion that penguins are restricted to Antarctic ice floes! At places like Pan de Azucar or Isla Choros it is possible to get local fishermen to take you out to the islands that are home to the rather shy Humboldt penguin. While landings are not allowed in order to protect the wildlife, it is possible to get good views of the penguins on the landing sites and in the water.

At Puñihuil on Isla de Chiloe the local conservation organisation the Otway Foundation runs trips out to a small island in the bay on which both Humboldt and Magellanic penguins can be seen. Again, landings are not possible however good views of the penguins can be had and sightings of sea otters and sea lions are also possible.

At Punta Arenas you can catch a boat to an island in the Straits of Magellan that is home to a large colony of Magellanic penguins.

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There is a colony of Magellanic penguins between Caleta Valdes and Punta Norte on the Peninsula Valdes and another huge colony (half a million birds) at Punta Tombo.

From Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego it is possible to visit a small colony of gentoo and magellanic penguins on a small island in the Beagle channel or catch a cruise ship to visit penguins on the Antarctic peninsula and islands.

Believe it or not, but Peru has penguins too! The Reserva Nacional de Paracas on the Peninsula de Paracas is home to many species of wildlife and Humboldt penguins can be seen by taking a boat trip around Isla Ballestas.

[Discover Peru]

Equador's famous Galapagos Islands are the home to the most endangered penguin species - the Galapagos penguin. Cruises of 7 days or more appear to be the best way of seeing all the amazing wildlife on these islands.

Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands host five penguin species - the King, Gentoo, Macaroni, Rockhopper and Magellanic, with the latter two being the most numerous.

[Falklands Conservation]

The Antarctic and sub-antarctic
Pete and Barbs penguin pages have a great list of tour operators that operate in the Antarctic and sub-antarctic

[Pete and Barbs Penguin Pages]

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