Education plays a key part in the West Coast Penguin Trust’s activities.  We know that children can develop a lifelong value for nature particularly in the age range 6-10 if they are given the opportunity.  Not only that, but they love penguins and share their enthusiasm with their extended family and friends.  

Having developed our educational resource and while supporting teachers to use it, the Trust is also keen to connect to senior school teachers and students and has worked with Erica Jar at Buller High School, providing material for her Year 10 ecology curriculum classes.  Those notes and lesson plans are available here, with grateful thanks to Erica: Penguin Ecology Year 10 lesson notes by Erica Jar, Buller High School 2017

Penguin and Seabird Educational Resource

The Trust has developed a penguin and seabird education resource especially for the West Coast but it will be of value for educators and children everywhere, particularly coastal areas of New Zealand.  (Scroll down for link.)

Blue Penguins & Other Seabirds. Activities for exploration and action for schools and community groups” is aimed at children in the age range 5 to 9 but can be adapted for younger or older children.  The goal is for local people to learn about and take action for the wildlife in their own back yard.  Research has also shown that children gain essential values for the environment and a connectedness to nature in this age group.

On the West Coast, where the rural communities are very spread out, the provision of a resource of easy to use activities for teachers and youth leaders, to use as and when it suits them, will realistically reach more children than the Trust can reach through occasional visits and classroom sessions.

Printed copies are being supplied to every primary school, home school group, scout, guide and other youth groups as well as DOC education rangers and school holiday programme providers.

The resource has been written by environmental educator, Zoe Watson.  It is aligned to the NZ Curriculum but the activities will work just as well within the structures of youth groups such as guides and scouts or holiday programmes.

Examples of badges available to Brownies are Out ‘n’ About, which includes enjoying nature and how to be observant, Animal World (caring for wildlife) and Green Machine (conservation). The education package will provide resources to help children work towards their badges at Brownies, Guides, Scouts and other youth groups.

Fun learning activities will be included within the education resource, including games and arts and crafts, which can be used by other groups including for example REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme), who provide holiday activities on the West Coast. With all the resources on line, they are readily available to home school parents and students and indeed anyone with an interest in sharing a love for and interest in the coastal environment with children.

The project focusses on blue penguins but includes sooty shearwaters (both species are in Gradual Decline, 2005 NZ Threat Classification System), Fiordland Crested Penguins or Tawaki (Nationally Endangered) and Westland Petrels (Range Restricted), all in their natural habitat. The coastal habitat of these species on the West Coast has, as it has around NZ, been modified or disturbed by humans and their activities.

We welcome any feedback on the new education resource and we would also love to receive photographs and stories as you have a go at the various activities.  Please send them to us at

We hope you enjoy learning about and taking action for penguins and seabirds.

NOTE: In the resource, we introduce countershading and the idea of penguin camouflage.  That long held theory has been considered by The Tawaki Project’s Dr Thomas Mattern and found to be wanting.  This excellent blog and short video links the countershading to thermoregulation, protection from abrasion, energetic reasons and social signalling.  Read all about it and watch the video here.


The LEARNZ videos that can be used in conjunction with the resource, can be found here:

Download the Education Resource

The resource is available for download as a PDF, after completing the form below.
This web-friendly version is 59 pages – 10.4MB.

If you would prefer a higher-resolution PDF, please email

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Intended usage

Organisation (if applicable)

Generously sponsored by

Education project sponsor logos - Holcim, Pub Charity and Lottery Grants Board

The Trust is being funded to present and demonstrate the material to a number of schools and youth groups during 2015-16 by the TrustPower West Coast Lend a Hand Foundation, the Sargood Bequest Fund and the Scotlands Te Kiteroa Fund so that the effectiveness of the resource can be maximised. 

A big thank you to these wonderful grant making bodies!The Sargood Bequest logoLend a Hand trustpower rotary logo





Other Resources

Other useful websites:

Southern Seabird Solutions – providing provide specific information and resources about seabirds and fishing.

NZ Birds on line

Kerry-Jayne Wilson talks about blue penguins (short video)

Colouring pages and craft activities

Hint: have a look at the colour of penguins – feathers, beaks, eyes and feet – on the NZbirdsonline website

Blue penguin

Janet Marshall blue penguins picture  (click on the picture to enlarge.  See Janet Marshall Birds for Kids webpage for more bird pictures)

Simple penguin

Penguin toilet paper roll craft (perhaps leave out the bowtie or bow!)

Blue penguin face mask

At the beach

Penguin and other footprints

Guide to other footprints you might see at the beach

Walking Access NZ “Walking the Dog” (for Year 1-3)

Short video of release of a blue penguin – see how fast the move and the tracks they leave behind!


Tawaki, Marathon Penguins

Westland petrel videos

Seaweek with Hokitika Primary School – at the beach and art in the classroom, (March 2016)

Penguin education workshop inspires teachers (February 2016)

Penguins for children (February 2015)

Education resource launched (November 2014)

Examples of children’s activities

Granity School children making plaster casts of penguin footprints during the "Making Tracks" activity (Nov 2015)

Granity School children making plaster casts of penguin footprints during the “Making Tracks” activity (Nov 2015)

A penguin collage by St Canice's College, Westport, March 2016

A penguin collage by St Canice’s College, Westport, March 2016

Creating a beach map at Hokitika Primary School, March 2016

Creating a beach map at Hokitika Primary School, March 2016

A Westland petrel story from Barrytown school

A Westland petrel story from Barrytown school



Westland petrel pictures by Barrytown school children

Westland petrel pictures by Barrytown School children

Pouring plaster of Paris for casts of penguin prints, St Patricks, School at Camerons beach, July 2017

Pouring plaster of Paris for casts of penguin prints, St Patricks, School at Camerons beach, July 2017


Plaster of Paris casts of blue penguin footprints, St Patrick's School June 2017

Plaster of Paris casts of blue penguin footprints, St Patrick’s School June 2017


Thank you cards from St Patrick's School children, July 2017

Thank you cards from St Patrick’s School children, July 2017


Blue penguin facts by Milan, St Patrick's School, Greymouth

Blue penguin facts by Milan, St Patrick’s School, Greymouth

Creative writing - Aimee Ford, St Patrick's School

Creative writing – Aimee Ford, St Patrick’s School

Penguin maths project board at St Patrick's School, Greymouth, July 2017

Penguin maths project board at St Patrick’s School, Greymouth, July 2017












Interesting articles about penguins in New Zealand

Our little blue neighbours (forest and bird magazine) (For more about The Royal Forest & Bird Society and to join, follow this link.)

A new home for korora – KCC Wild Things Sumer 2015-6 

(For more about the Kiwi Conservation Club, more resources and to join, follow this link.)