JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ
The private access way for the little blue penguins on Waterfront Rd comes after increased activity at the harbour, with tourists taking photos with flash disturbing the birds, Blue Penguin Colony research scientist Dr Philippa Agnew said.
The little blue penguins lived in an urban environment and several issues arose with their commute between their nests and the sea.
"The installation of this little penguin underpass in Oamaru is a New Zealand first," Agnew said.
"At the boat ramp each evening during summer, the penguins face crowds of people trying to get close to them and also traffic trying to use the same road - an unfortunate reality of urban living."
Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the project was a proactive measure in the interest of wildlife protection.
"The idea is we would like to separate the people from the penguins," Gaskill said.
It would not be difficult for penguins to get used to the tunnel. To the best of his knowledge there had been no incidents of penguins crossing the road, he said.
Waitaki District Council roading manager Michael Voss said construction on the underpass would begin on Monday, with several organisations collaborating in a "perfect storm".
"Basically we are excavating into the road a culvert, the pipe being supplied by Hynds."
Penguins would use the pipe to travel across the road safely, he said.
Construction on the road would go through a generator owned by Network Waitaki, but Network Waitaki had indicated they would relocate the generator at their own expense.
Voss said weather permitting, construction would be completed within a week.