Henry the penguin from Fiordland found in Akaroa

HENRY THE PENGUIN: Hungry, thirsty and moulting - far from home.
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HENRY THE PENGUIN: Hungry, thirsty and moulting - far from home.

A rare penguin found wandering hundreds of kilometres from home is en route back to the sea.

The rare Fiordland crested penguin was found wandering around the centre of Akaroa, a village near Christchurch, about three weeks ago.

Henry was hungry, thirsty and moulting.

Pohatu Penguins employee Kevin Parthonnaud said Henry, who evaded capture at first, had been staying in his garden.

Fiordland crested penguins, classified as "endangered", are one of the rarest penguin species in the world. Their breeding range extends from south Westland to Fiordland, and on islands in the Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island.

West Coast Penguin Trust manager Inger Perkins said she had not heard of a Fiordland crested penguin in Akaroa before.

"They don't pop up away from their range that often."

She said Henry, "who could equally be a 'Henrietta'", was retrieved on Monday from Akaroa by Department of Conservation marine ranger Derek Cox, who was on holiday in the area with his partner.

They put Henry in their campervan and spent the night at Klondyke Corner near Arthur's Pass.

Henry, who was in a crate, attracted the curiosity of local kea and robins.

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"They just kind of looked at each other," Perkins said.

Henry's presence also prompted a call to the police from confused campers.

"It was not an abduction," police spokesman John Dougherty said.

Henry was delivered to Hokitika-based trustee Kim McPherson's home for further fostering on Wednesday at 1pm.

Perkins said Henry would likely finish moulting in the next week or so, when his newly waterproof feathers would enable him to return to the sea.

 - The Press

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