New Zealand's first penguin underpass goes viral

By Hamish MacLean

Two penguins going through the penguin underpass. Photo / Shelley Ogle
Two penguins going through the penguin underpass. Photo / Shelley Ogle

People love to watch them shake their tails and waddle.

Oamaru's little blue penguins have become international sensations with a video of the penguins entering New Zealand's first penguin underpass clocking more than 200,000 views since it was posted on social media on November 4.

Massey University master's student Shelley Ogle captured the above image of two of the little penguins using the underpass.

The underpass has since also received attention from media outlets around the world, and CNN, The Guardian, NBC, the Smithsonian and the ABC are among those that have picked up the story.

Installed under Waterfront Rd in Oamaru Harbour in September to benefit penguin welfare, the 25m underpass that allows the world's smallest penguins to safely cross the road had the ''unexpected result'' of gaining Oamaru worldwide exposure, Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said.

It was a pleasing by-product of the conservation effort of the penguin colony and its community partners.

''We've always thought that what we had was world-class,'' Mr Gaskill said.

Colony marine biologist Dr Philippa Agnew said this week the Kaikoura earthquake, which was felt in Oamaru, had not damaged the colony.

This week, the colony reported 284 eggs had been laid so far this season, with 194 chicks hatched and one chick fledged.

- Otago Daily Times

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