Tasmania is home to the world’s smallest breed of penguin. Technically named the eudyptula minor, they’re more commonly referred to as fairy penguins and little penguins; an estimated 110,000 to 190,000 call Tasmania home.
These penguins leave the ocean at dusk and return to land to roost. It takes them courage because this is when they are most vulnerable. Thanks to preservation efforts, there are many observation points throughout Tasmania to view fairy penguins. Some are free, and some are guided tours.
Best Guided Penguin Tours
Learn from the experts and access vantage points not open to the public.
In the early 1990s, the Bicheno penguin colony Bicheno Penguin Tours was created as a ‘business to protect nature and since then has helped restore the little penguin population from a low of 40 to 600. They converted a paddock into a penguin habitat where they monitor the penguins.
On this guided tour, you’ll take a short bus ride to their own private penguin rookery.
Penguin Fact #1: Fairy penguins measure approximately 35cm tall and weigh 1.2kg. By comparison, the Emperor Penguin, the world’s largest penguin, stands over 100cm and can weigh 30kg.
Low Head Penguin Tours offers an intimate penguin experience. On this paid tour, you will have access to a beach generally closed to the public. Over an hour, you’ll watch the little penguins pluck up the courage to leave the ocean and return to shore.
Free Ways To See Penguins
There are several free vantage points around Tasmania.
Lillico Beach is a pebbly beach that sits between Devonport and Ulverstone. It’s most known for being a fantastic vantage point to see fairy penguins.
The viewing platform is free, and during penguin season, volunteers from are happy to answer any questions. You’ll find them there between September to May each year. Visitor lights and flash photography is prohibited, but the volunteers will have a red torch. Donations are welcome.
Penguin Fact #2: Fairy penguins lay two white eggs, two or three days apart. The incubation period is 36 days and hatching success is around 60%.
Penguin Fact #3: Fairy penguins have excellent vision, both in and out of the water. They have a third eyelid that protects the eye underwater and is used like a windscreen while on land to remove sand
The penguin observation deck is not far from Burnie’s city centre and is a popular destination to view the little penguins. It is accessible via walking along The Boardwalk that runs along the promenade. Parking nearby is also available.
Volunteers man the deck from October 1st until March 31st. They are all very passionate about the penguins and will help you have a fantastic experience.
Penguin Fact #4: Fairy penguins are covered in about 10,000 feathers, creating perfect insulation at sea. This is around three to four times the density of a flighted bird.
Penguin Fact #5: Fairy penguins just sleep for four (yes, four!) minutes at a time. These short bursts of sleep protect them from predators.
What better place to see penguins than a town with the same name! This quirky town was once a timber town named after the little penguin rookeries that dot the coast.
This town is devoted to penguins; there’s a giant penguin statue near the foreshore, and the nearby stores feature penguin logos. The best vantage point is from the south of Penguin Beach, or even the next beach; there is no specific observation deck.
The Godfreys Penguin Viewing Platform is directly next to the Nut. This viewing platform is a $300,000 initiative by the state government to provide a lookout whilst protecting the nesting areas.
Make sure to bring your own torch – just make sure it’s red. You can also view the penguins from the boardwalk next to the cemetery, just down from the viewing platform.