Kapiti's rare visit from emperor penguin

03:23, Jun 21 2011
Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor penguin on Peka Peka Beach
DOC ranger Clint Purches with emperor penguin, Peka Peka Beach.
Emperor Penguin
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor Penguin
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor Penguin
An emperor penguin a long way from home on Peka Peka Beach, Kapiti Coast.
Emperor Penguin
The Emperor Penguin with Colin Miskelly, a penguin expert from Te Papa.
Happy Feet
The emperor penguin - nicknamed Happy Feet -has some of the sand he consumed flushed out by Wellington Zoo staff.
An Xray taken before the penguin's procedure on Friday shows sand filling his stomach and throat.
An Xray taken before the penguin's procedure on Friday shows sand filling his stomach and throat.
Happy Feet at Wellington Zoo
RECOVERY OPERATION: Staff at Wellington Zoo work on Happy Feet on Friday. An Xray taken before the penguin's procedure shows sand filling his stomach and throat.
Happy feet
The Emperor Penguin been released back into its icy enclosure at Wellington Zoo after having sand and sticks removed from it stomach.
Happy feet
Some of the sticks removed from the penguins stomach.
Happy feet
Staff removing sand and sticks from the stomach of the Emperor Penguin at Wellington Zoo.

The second-known emperor penguin to ever visit New Zealand shores has turned up on the Kapiti Coast.

Kapiti resident Christine Wilton was walking her dog on Monday afternoon at Peka Peka Beach when she saw a "glistening white thing standing up" on the sand.

"I thought I was seeing things," Ms Wilton said.

She contacted the Department of Conservation's Waikanae office, who discovered the strange visitor was an emperor penguin - only the second ever sighted on New Zealand's shores.

The one other recording of an emperor penguin in New Zealand was at Southland's Oreti Beach in  1967.

DOC is advising that people should not disturb the penguin and that dogs are kept on leads in the area.

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Penguins can give vicious bites if they feel threatened.

If left alone it is expected that the bird will eventually swim back out to sea.

"It's amazing to see one of these penguins on the Kapiti Coast," said DOC biodiversity spokesperson Peter Simpson.

"Unusual animals from the Antarctic sometimes visit our shores, but we really don't know why."

Emperor penguins are the largest penguins, with adults reaching more than a metre tall and weighing up to 30kg.

They feed on fish, krill, squid and a wide range of marine invertebrates and hold the diving record at 450 metres deep and 11 minutes underwater.

The Dominion Post