World's smallest penguins killed by Dunedin storm

Weather, Animals
The two penguins were discovered on Tuesday. Photo credit: Supplied

Two little blue penguins have been found dead on the Otago Peninsula after slips crushed their homes as a result of the recent storm and floods to hit Dunedin.

"We found a pair of little penguins dead in their home (nest box) which was covered in sand and mud. We are hoping these are the only fatalities for wildlife at Pukekura," Manager of Operations Taiaroa Head, Hoani Langsbury said.

Weather, Dunedin, Animals
The landslide devastated parts of the sanctuary. Photo credit: Supplied

"There were not too many little penguin nest boxes in that location. However it was all the material out of a big hole that covered the nest boxes on the flat below where the two penguins died."

Little blue penguins are known as the world's smallest penguin, standing just over 25 centimetres and weighing in around one kilogram.

Animals, Dunedin
The penguin's homes stood no chance. Photo credit: Supplied

Images provided to Newshub show the devastating landslide that claimed the lives of the pair.

The Blue Penguins Pukekura is next to the well-known Royal Albatross Colony near the end of the peninsula and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Weather, Dunedin
Some homes were left covered in mud and sand. Photo credit: Supplied

The little residents currently have a declining status but aren't considered endangered.

They live in three different areas of the country, Dunedin, The Catlins and in Oamaru.

Late last year Oamaru rolled out the red carpet for their tiny visitors, building them an access tunnel under a road to ensure they can cross safely.

The penguins head out to sea before first light and return to the shore at dusk but had to cross a public road to get back to their colony forcing some residents to act as "penguin crossing guard."

It is more positive news at the Royal Albatross Colony with all 23 albatross chicks in good health.

Authorities travelled out to the sanctuaries by boat on Tuesday for the first time since the storm hit.

Access routes from Dunedin city out to Taiaroa Head remain closed at Portobello as a result of slips and rock fall with crews working to open up access again. 

It comes after muddy slips also forced the scenic Taieri Gorge Railway, another one of Dunedin's top attractions, to close for a month with large areas of the southern track impassable.

While the floods are easing by the day, the clean-up will continue for weeks to come.

Parts of the track are still surrounded by floodwater and the cost of repairs is set to top $100,000.