Little blue penguins continue Wellington City invasion

Little blue penguins will continue to invade Wellington City, as volunteers work tirelessly to keep their population steady.

Matiu-Somes Island in Wellington Harbour has been predator-free for more than 30 years - becoming a haven for the world's smallest penguins.

"The fact that there is no predators, the birds have the ability to nest and breed in comfort," says penguin volunteer Mike Rumble.

That's also thanks to volunteers who manage nests on the island. On Saturday, the team spent the day 'banding' penguins to track their population - much to one bird's dismay.

Penguins are still coming into the islands to nest, but at the high point in the nesting season there would be up to 300 pairs of penguins and they would have up to 250 chicks.

"The penguins from Matiu-Somes Island generally act as a breeding centre for a large number of penguins which then move to central Wellington," Rumble says.

And despite having nesting boxes there, they've increasingly wandered into the central city this breeding season.

Rumble removed one infamous pair from the sushi store twice in July - even taking them across Wellington Harbour to a haven in Days Bay.

"Within 25 minutes we watched them head into the sea and they disappeared," Rumble says.

He believes the two seen again last Friday night was the same pair - penguins will always try to return to their chosen nest. That keeps the Department of Conservation (DoC) busy.

"Penguins live where we like to recreate, keep dogs on leashes and just keep an eye out for them especially at dawn and dusk," says DoC biodiversity ranger David Moss.

So the hard work of penguin volunteers isn't in vain.