Eastbourne – Wildlife - Guthrie Cottage Holiday Home

Eastbourne – Wildlife

100m from the Cottage to the north in the latter part of the year you’ll hear (and after dark see), little blue penguins going about their work of building nests in the boulders and preparing to raise their young

Little Blue


Little Blue Penguins nest along the Eastbourne shoreline in the winter.  At one time there were five pairs nesting
under the cottage.  The BBC filmed a documentary at the cottage about Blue Penguins (they no longer nest under the cottage as access has since been sealed off, as they can be very noisy and smelly when under houses!).

It is unlikely you will see any penguin nests as they hide amongst the rocks, up drain pipes and under houses.  You will possibly hear them at night in the distance (a number of pairs nest in rocks about 300 metres north of the cottage).

Blue Penguins usually move around the shore at night when they are safer from predators.  There are signs on the road entering Eastbourne advising motorists to beware of penguins crossing the road.

If you are out boating on the harbour, you may be lucky enough to see them swimming on the surface.


Orcas (also known as Killer Whales) enter the harbour a couple of times a year, usually around November/December.  They make an amazing sight swimming in pods of a dozen or so and will come within 50 metres of the beach.

Always be prepared for the unexpected visitor being so close to the sea. This little fellow was snapped by local resident Phil Benge not too far from the Cottage front gate.


A number of our guests have enjoyed watching dolphins frolicking just off the beach on many occasionsthroughout the year. These are mainly Bottlenose and Common dolphins. A Hector’s dolphin – the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin was spotted in Wellington harbour as recently as November 2011. This sighting made quite a stir as a Hector’s dolphin hasn’t been seen here since 2009.


There are seal colonies at Red Rocks across the harbour, and at Palliser Bay south of Pencarrow.  Lone seals often enter the harbour and occasionally come up on the beach.  They have been sighted playing in the sea in front of the cottage about 50 metres off shore.


New Zealand Native Birdlife

A few million years of isolation in a land of moderate climate, in the complete absence of predators, did not leave the indigenous inhabitants with much idea of defence. Shore, sea and migratory birds remained active, the insect-eating and honey sucking varieties kept their flight ability, but nested in vulnerable places while the swamp dwellers and feeders on grass seed mainly lost the ability to fly. The presence of fifty million sheep means that very little grass seed is ever to be found

Oyster Catchers

Oyster catchers near the cottage

Black, long legged birds with long thin red beaks, the Oyster Catchers frequent the beaches usually in pairs south of the cottage.

Soaring seagull – photo courtesty of Phil Benge


Seagulls are prominent.  During spring they nest in the rocks around the coast toward Pencarrow and on Ward Island in the harbour, directly out from the cottage.

Shags can be seen diving for fish and sunning themselves on the rocks usually south of Eastbourne.

Snapped by local photographer Phil Benge down at Pencarrow lakes

The bright blue long-legged Pukeko swamp rail can fly in a heavy fashion for a short distance but does not bother unless chased. – courtesy Phil Benge

Female Paradise Duck – found only in New Zealand. photo courtesy Phil Benge

The paradise shelduck is New Zealand’s only shelduck, a worldwide group of large, often semi-terrestrial waterfowl that have goose-like features. Unusually for ducks, the female paradise shelduck is more eye-catching than the male; females have a pure white head and chestnut-coloured body, while males have a dark grey body and black head.

Paradise shelducks are commonly observed flying in pairs or grazing on pasture. They are very vocal birds, with males giving a characteristic ‘zonk zonk’, while females make a more shrill ‘zeek zeek’ while flying or as a warning to intruders.

The native bush behind Eastbourne contains introduced wild pigs, deer and possums as well as a variety of native bird life, such as Tui, Morepork and Woodpigeon.

For more information on New Zealand native birdlife, see: www.rossea.info/nz-bird-life.html