A king penguin and two hikers in New Zealand

A king penguin and two hikers in New Zealand

Experience: trekking • animal observation • moments of happiness

from AGE ™ Travel Magazine
Released: Last update on 3,3K Views

King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) King Penguin with hiker on Stewart Island Rakiura New Zealand trekking trip

Do you know these wondrous gifts of the moment? Moments that still make you smile happily years later? Unexpected and unique. A very personal moment of happiness? We received such a gift from the universe on Stewart Island, in the southernmost part of New Zealand. 
AGE™ was at Trekking on the Southern Circuit of Stewart Island in New Zealand.
Experience our very personal moment of happiness with a young king penguin in the middle of nowhere.

The Journey is the Goal

We hiked through the wilderness for two days, with three more to come. The path is strenuous, because the Southern Circuit from Stewart Island / Raikura is hardly maintained and runs through dense New Zealand forests. Again and again we find markings that serve as signposts. Here and there is an abandoned hut. But the path is often no longer passable and demands a lot from us. But the route is lonely. Lonely and beautiful.

Trees, mosses and ferns compete in bright green. The forest pulsates with life. I breathe deeply his pure scent and draw my strength from his as I walk. We cross small rivers, trudge through deep mud and conquer a bog. Then we finally have solid ground under our feet again. Steep root paths lead us down into a large bay with a small, lonely hut. Sandy expanse spreads her arms. I'm wide awake and yet this is the beach of my dreams.

The lonely sandy beach of Doughboy Bay is so beautiful and peaceful that we decide to take a day off. Somewhere there should also be caves. Our spirit of discovery is awakened. Well rested and with little luggage, we explore the area the next morning. An endless sandy beach lies at our feet. A little paradise as far as the eye can see.

We run and rest, swim in shallow bays and stray from here to there. We find driftwood and tracks, watch birds and breathe the happiness of being alone as a couple in this wonderful place.

The landscape looks as if it had stepped out of a fairy tale book. Glittering water shimmers in all colours, white clouds and green hills are reflected in the crystal-clear water, small island mountains teasingly stretch out of the sand and several kilometers later a river kisses the salty flood.

Stories about the wonderful moments in life

A very special encounter

And right here, in a lonely bay of Stewart Island, surrounded by wild New Zealand forests, we should meet him: A young king penguin on a long journey.

We have just crossed the mouth of the small river that joins its waters with the sea when we discover a small spot on the shore. What's moving back there? We stop and peek. Isn't that a penguin? We slowly sink to our knees and lie down on the sand so as not to frighten the animal. Indeed. A penguin on the beach. And a curious one at that.

Unabashedly he waddles towards us, keeps coming in our direction. We hold our breath for fear of destroying this magical moment with a wrong move. We expect that as soon as he spots us, he'll turn around and quickly disappear under the water. But no trace of shyness. The little guy is getting closer and closer (for video) and is finally only a single arm's length away.

Deeply relaxed, he stands next to us and dedicates himself extensively to body care. Reaches, stretches and preens every single feather. The beautiful animal shines flawlessly in the sunshine.

We are fascinated by its massive black feet with small claws, the agile orange-black beak that repeatedly strokes through the dense black-and-white plumage and the beautiful pale yellow head-spot. He doesn't look like any of the New Zealand penguin species. More like a king penguin, but is it possible?

Anything is possible on a fairytale beach. Also that two hikers and a king penguin have lunch break together. We can't believe our luck because it seems this penguin actually enjoys our company. Has he ever seen a human before?

The unexpected gift that comes our way fills us with awe and gratitude for the here and now. Lying in the sand we look up at the young king penguin and he is enthroned over the bay like a true king.

Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow


PLATUX photo art • Königsblick • Photography 13.02.2019/5/2, edition XNUMX (+XNUMX)


Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow

Die Zeit steht still

After a fantastic photo shoot, the camera is finally next to us. Enough photos. Our time stands still. We enjoy. We spend at least an hour with the friendly king penguin on the beach of our dreams.

Like old friends we sit next to each other in the sand. Wordlessly we philosophize about the meaning of life. From time to time we look at each other and notice each other. Nice that you're here, whispers the silence. Together we look at the sea.

Finally, our new friend gets tired. He folds his feet up, closes his eyes and just falls asleep next to us. We stay a little longer, then we thank him silently for the wonderful time and crawl backwards carefully so as not to startle him. We see him sitting there for a long time while we continue walking along the beach. And we will remember this magical hour for a long time.

These are the moments of happiness in life - which last forever.

Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow

A penguin on a world tour

Only later, with a little distance from the magic of the encounter, do we ask ourselves a thousand questions: What is a king penguin doing all alone on a beach in New Zealand?

Did fate separate him from his colony? Is he lost? Or is he a scout? A courageous explorer of new shores? We think back to him with some concern. Will he find his way back home? It was a beautiful animal and he seemed very alert. I'm sure he's fine.

Three years after this special encounter, we learn on our Expedition trip to Antarcticathat the friendly penguin was a traveler like us. Juvenile king penguins sometimes migrate long distances and sometimes even reach the coast of New Zealand. An encounter is rare, says the expert, but does happen. We are glad to know that our penguin was not stranded.

If life has been kind to him, then he has long since returned home after his voyage of discovery and has founded a small penguin family. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see him and his family again.

Have you become curious and would you like more experience reports?
Follow us to South Georgia in the sub-Antarctic, where we meet thousands upon thousands of king penguins
or join us trekking the Southern Circuit through Stewart Island.

Learn exciting facts and information about the king penguin.
Discover more beautiful places in New Zealand with the AGE™ New Zealand Travel Guide.
Explore the lonely kingdom of the cold with the AGE™ Antarctic Travel Guide.

Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow

Enjoy the AGE™ Video: One with Nature - a very special encounter

(To view the wildlife video via YouTube, simply click on the image. A separate window will open.)

Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow

Enjoy the AGE™ Image Gallery: Two Walkers and a King Penguin in New Zealand

(For a relaxed slide show in full format, simply click on a photo and use the arrow key to move forward)

Wildlife ViewingHiking & trekking • New Zealand trip • Stewart Island Southern Circuit trekking • Two hikers and a king penguin • Diashow

Copyrights and Copyright
Texts, photos and videos are protected by copyright. The copyright for this article in word and image is fully owned by AGE™. All rights reserved. Content for print/online media is licensed upon request. The artwork "Königsblick" was published in AGE™ travel magazine courtesy of PLATUX.
The experiences shown are based solely on true events. However, since nature is unpredictable, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on your trip to Stewart Island. If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability.
Source reference for text research

Personal experiences hiking on Stewart Island (Southern Circuit) during a trip to New Zealand in February & March 2019.

Information in conversation with the expedition team of the Sea Spirit on Antarctic voyage with Poseidon Expeditions in March 2022.

Department of Conservation Rakiura National Park Visitor Center (February 2017), North West and Southern Circuit tracks [pdf document] Retrieved 27.12.2022-XNUMX-XNUMX from URL: https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/rakiura-northwest-southerncircuitbrochure.pdf

PLATUX (oD), modern art and photo art Gallery PLATUX [online] Retrieved on December 28.12.2022, XNUMX, from URL: www.PLATUX.de

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