Rare Fiordland penguins delight first walkers of the season on Hollyford Track
Hollyford Track Guided Walks, owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, has opened for the summer season and early walkers on the track have been rewarded with regular sightings of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.
The first walkers took to the track for the company’s Three Day Guided Wilderness Experience walk in mid-October and reports from on-site staff say the penguins – also known as Tawaki - are regular visitors to the valley at the mouth of the Hollyford River, near the lodge at Martins Bay.
Hollyford Track Guided Walks operations manager Travis Donoghue, said the “cute creatures” were always a favourite moment with walkers who happen upon the ‘waddle’ regularly.
“There’ve been frequent sightings of them in the last few days and our guests have really enjoyed getting so close to these wonderful birds which are unique to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fiordland National Park and surrounding areas of South and West New Zealand.”
“To see them in their natural habitat is a truly special experience and once-in-a-lifetime chance.The current population is between just 2500 and 3000 breeding pairs. .
“A sighting will always be synonymous with Fiordland and New Zealand so our walkers are certainly having a trip to remember,” said Mr Donoghue.
Due to the migratory patterns of the Fiordland Crested Penguin it’s expected they’ll be around the Hollyford region until early December.
The dedicated team have been on-site at the lodge training and getting ready for the busy summer with all indications pointing to another “stellar hiking season”.
The walking season lasts until late April and the company already has a number of walks fully booked, especially during the busier peak summer times.
“As always we suggest people book early. With only 16 people in each trip we do book-up well in advance.”
The walk includes low-altitude hiking suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness, native wildlife encounters, wilderness jet-boating, historical sites and finishes with a scenic helicopter flight to Milford Sound.
Further information on all Hollyford Track Guided Walks is available at www.hollyfordtrack.co.nz