“Guess what? Fairy penguins Tasmania!” I sputtered at Dave almost incoherently as he came through the door at the end of a work day.

“Well hello to you too. What are fairy penguins may I ask?” Probably also wondering if I had forgotten to speak in full sentences.

“They are the tiniest, cutest, little penguins. Only 13 inches high! Fairy penguins live in the wild in Tasmania. Furthermore you know how I want to go to Tasmania and have always wanted to see penguins in the wild!” I ended with an extra squawk of glee and a batting of eyelashes.

Fairy penguins Tasmania

Fairy penguins Tasmania

“But we saw a penguin in the Galapagos last year” came the rational, slightly impatient reply.

“That doesn’t count. It was one lone little penguin. For all we know he could have been a planted penguin.  Did you actually see him move? We need to see more than one wild penguin for it to actually count.”

More smiling and eye batting from said wife.

Oh the plight of the long suffering husband married to the wanderlust addict.

So it was long months before out travels to Australia that the little blue  penguins became a must on the travel activity list.

Where you can see fairy penguins Tasmania Australia

little penguins low head tasmania

Many travelers to Australia choose to see the fairy penguins on Philip Island near Melbourne or other southern shores of the mainland. The idea of sitting on bleachers with crowds of people seemed to take the wild out of viewing penguins in Australia.

The little penguins can also be found in parts of New Zealand but you can imagine the eye rolling I got from Hubby when bringing up that option for the penguin quest.

So we chose to see the blue penguins, so called for their gray-blue color, in Tasmania. Here in quiet and quaint spots along the north coast, small guided tours can be found.

fairy penguins low head tasmania

I admit to being as impatient as a kid on Christmas morning waiting for the little penguins to make their debut on our tour at Low Head.  Dave endured the peppering of whispered questions.

“Can you see them yet? How about now? Why aren’t they here yet?”

The penguins wait for the cover of darkness to return from feeding in the ocean since before sunrise. So there is that small matter of waiting for the sun to set.

Once the little blue penguins came ashore, the guides occasionally shone a red hued light toward the little waddlers. The light apparently diffuse enough so as not to scare or harm them.  I gazed longingly for the wee birds wishing my vision had developed infrared capability.

fairy penguins low head tasmania

The little penguins heading for their nests after a long day in the ocean

Instructed by the guides to be quiet so as not to startle the fairy penguins, I put my hand over my mouth to keep from cheering their arrival. Cautiously, the little fairy penguins made their way from the dark shores to their nests and burrows in the rocks.

Watching those wee blue fairy penguins waddle by as we sat on the sand will forever be a highlight of our world travels.

Thanks to our friend Cherie for capturing video of the action of the fairy penguins Tasmania bound from the ocean.


When the little penguins had all found their nests and the tour ended I turned to Dave.

“I hear you can see penguins during the day in South Africa!”

I may be wrong but consequently I think I saw a serious eye roll from the long suffering one. It was dark so hard to tell.

Have you seen penguins in the wild?