The majority of the breeding population is on the remote Antipodes
and Bounty Islands, with smaller numbers on the Auckland Islands.
Stragglers are often seen at other subantarctic islands in the New
Zealand region and some make it to the New Zealand mainland, usually
to moult. One of the largest of the crested penguins, the erect-crested
penguin stands at approx 50cm and weighs up to 4kg. The parallel,
brush-like crests identify adults of this species, however it is easily
confused with the Fiordland and Snares crested penguins. Key identification
features are the strip of bare skin on the bottom edge of the bill
and the crest starting at the gape of the bill. In both Fiordland
and Snares penguins the crest starts at the base of the top plate
of the bill.
Inhabitants of the sun-antarctic oceans, erect-crested penguins breed
in large colonies on rocky coasts, often climbing very steep faces
to breed on rock platforms. Will often breed alongside rockhopper
The males return to their breeding colonies in September, the females
following two weeks later. Competition for nest sites can be fierce
and fighting is common. A very simple nest is made, often comprising
of just a few stones and a little mud. Two eggs are laid, the first
of which is usually lost. The second egg is up to 100% the size of
the first and is the only one seriously incubated. The chicks fledge
in February and the adults return to sea for the winter after moulting
Little is known of the erect-crested's diet, but it is thought that
they are pelagic feeders, dining on fish and krill near the surface
and that they may travel hundreds of kilometers in search of food.
The population of erect-crested penguins may be decreasing, but the
extent of this and reasons for it are not understood. Most of their
breeding habitats are free of introduced predators so this does not
appear to be a significant factor. Skua and giant petrels will take
porly guarded eggs and chicks.