How to look after kororā (little penguins)

Find out how to care for kororā in Wellington.

Kororā penguin.

Kororā live all around Wellington’s coastline from the rocky beaches and coastal scrub to the waterfront. While a chance encounter is possible, kororā are usually out at sea or in their burrows during the day. They mostly come ashore at night but can be found nesting or moulting amongst vegetation rocks, in a nest box, or even occasionally under houses during the day. There are also a number of kororā at Wellington Zoo as well as Matiu Somes Island.

Wellington is the only capital city in the world to be home to kororā. As the smallest penguin in the world, these feisty species navigate our busy harbour and persevere to retain their ancestral home, but they need our help.

Kororā seasonal cycles:

  • May – June: Kororā come ashore, find partners, and begin to prepare nests for breeding
  • July – October: Kororā lay eggs and rear chicks
  • November – April: Fledglings leave their nests, and the adults moult
  • April – May: Kororā are generally out at sea feeding

Caring for kororā

While it can be challenging for kororā to thrive in our city, there are several ways you can help care for them:

Keep dogs on a leash

  • Dogs are the biggest threat to kororā on land in urban environments.
  • Take the lead in responsibly exercising your dogs and keep them on a leash in coastal areas unless the area is explicitly designated as off-leash. Learn more about dog exercise areas.
  • If you see dogs off-leash in undesignated areas around the coast, let the owners know that kororā may be near, or call our Contact Centre at 04 499 4444.
  • Keep your dog securely contained at night and report any roaming or missing dogs immediately at 04 499 4444.

Drive slowly

Penguins come and go from their burrows at dusk and dawn, so be extra cautious when driving around the coast during these times. Not all areas have clear signage.

Fish with care

Do not discard fishing gear like hooks and line.

If you spot a sick or injured kororā

Call the Department of Conservation (DOC) on 0800 362 468.

If DOC suggests the animal requires treatment, please take it to The Nest Te Kōhanga at Wellington Zoo where it will receive expert vet care. Learn more about this process on the Forest and Bird website.

If you find a dead kororā, call DOC at 0800 362 468. Take pictures of the bird and the surrounding space to help DOC understand what happened. You can also send photos to the Places for Penguins project by Forest and Bird via their Facebook page, or email