Woodborough Farmhouse


Penguins are flightless seabirds whose 'wings' have been adapted into flippers making them superb swimmers and divers. On land, they walk upright and it may be because their walking posture somewhat resembles that of humans that they are so popular. They generally are white and a dark colour (black, blue or brown) with white fronts and dark backs. This generally makes them hard to see in the sea either from above or below. Although all penguins inhabit the southern hemisphere they are by no means all Antarctic creatures. Penguins have widely differing breeding and nesting habits. Emperors and Kings form no nest, but incubate their single egg in a sort of pouch between the feet. Some form nests using rocks and others nest in burrows.

There are 17 varieties of penguin which can be roughly categorised as follows (click on penguin species for further details and photo gallery):

Antarctic Penguins Sub-Antarctic Penguins Temperate Penguins New Zealand Species
Emperor (200) King (2000) Magellanic (1800) Royal (C) (850)
Adelie (2500) Macaroni (C) (9000) Humboldt (5) Snares Island (C) (25)
Rockhopper (C) (1800) African (70) Erect Crested (C) (170)
Gentoos (320) Galapagos (1) Yellow-eyed (1)
Chinstraps (7500) Blue (500) Fjordland (C) (3)

Antarctic Penguins are the only penguins to inhabit the true antarctic regions although even those do not generally live on the continent itself. Adelies form their breeding sites (rookeries) on small islands near the Antarctic coastline or on the Antarctic peninsula. Emperors form their rookeries on the sea ice itself and breed, incredibly, during the austral winter when temperatures can plummet to -70C.

Sub-Antarctic Penguins tend to be found on the sub-Antarctic islands close to the Antarctic Convergence. The Convergence is the point where the cold water from the Southern ocean meets the warmer water flowing south from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. At this point there is an abundance of oxygen in the sea water which assists the growth of large amounts of plankton. This in turn enables massive quantities of krill (small crustaceans) on which most penguins like to feed.

Temperate Penguins will not be found anywhere near the ice and breed on the southern continents (South America, Africa and Australia). Although still a Southern Hemisphere bird, the Galapagos Penguin actually has an equatorial habitat.

Several rare species have evolved in New Zealand and some of New Zealand's smaller islands. The Royal Penguin, similar to a Macaroni, is only found on Macquarie Island which is actually Australian but perhaps geographically belongs to New Zealand.

Some penguin species are crested (indicated by the 'C' above) The most typical is the Macaroni, named after a popular 18th century hairstyle. The number in parenthesis indicates the approximate number of breeding pairs in thousands.

Recent research by taxonomists has identified that Rockhoppers should be separated into three distinct species namely the Western, Eastern and Northern Rockhoppers. This would have the effect of increasing the number of species to 19 but for the purposes of these pages, Rockhoppers have been grouped into a single entry.