Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ
Last week a rare erect-crested penguin swum onto the beach, a long way from home. It was initially believed to be a Fiordland crested penguin.
The bird was found by Department of Conservation staff at Foxton Beach and brought to Wildbase Hospital in Palmerston North after an attempt to send it back home was unsuccessful.
Because it was such a busy spot, the decision was made to take the penguin to Wildbase.
The original plan was to release the penguin back out at sea for it to swim back home. However, rough conditions prevented that last week.
Wildbase director Brett Gartrell said the penguin began to moult.
"So with the help of Fly Palmy and Air New Zealand he was flown down to Dunedin to a rehabilitation centre called Penguin Place. He will spend the next few weeks there growing new feathers and be released from the beaches of the Otago Peninsula back into the deep blue."
Gartrell previously said penguins occasionally came this far north when looking for breeding grounds. Though the warmer temperature typically sent them back.
New Zealand Birds Online says erect-crested penguins only come to land to breed and moult. Almost all the birds breed on three islands in the Antipodes Island group and eight islands in the Bounty Islands.
The conservation status of the penguins was changed from naturally uncommon to declining, in 2013.
Adult birds moult at breeding colonies in late February through to early April. Non-breeders, mainly young birds, moult among the breeding colonies in February through to early March. Each bird stays ashore for the 26-30 days required to complete moult.