A number of blue penguins washing up exhausted or dead on Ruakaka Beach may be due to recent stormy weather.

Local resident Mel McMinn and her partner were walking their dog on Ruakaka Beach near Karawai St on Monday night and were alarmed to discover 10 dead blue penguins in a 2km stretch.

"One area just north of the stairs had six birds lying within a few metres of each other."

Further along the beach, other walkers had found an exhausted young penguin that could barely stand.


McMinn said while there was the occasional dead penguin at Ruakaka she had not see this many at one time.

Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre's Robert Webb said the centre had about 30 little blue penguins over the past two and a half weeks.

He said the large numbers turning up on the east coast from Matapouri to Mangawhai were caused by a combination of factors, the main one was the recent stormy weather.

"If we didn't have the easterly winds we wouldn't have the penguins coming in."

He said some of the penguins were getting battered by the weather, and were coming ashore to seek shelter in the dunes.

Webb said the penguins were "absolutely worn out" by the time they get to the beach and "virtually collapse".

He said the penguins had lost their waterproofing which keeps them warm and buoyant.

"They can't re-oil themselves on the water when it's rough."

Webb said the young penguins born around Christmas were finding the easterly winds rough and coming back to shore.

He said it was also the moulting time of the year, which brought the penguins ashore.

Department of Conservation spokeswoman Abi Monteith said the department was also aware of quite a few penguins being found along the coast.

She said unfortunately some of the birds don't make it to the dunes, but Monteith had a message for people who find the blue penguins on the beach.

"If the bird is injured, call Robert Webb at Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre. If it is unwell, don't touch them, but wrap it in a towel and put it into the dunes so it can recover."