Photos personal, but not too close

Photography seems to be the main motivation for tourists wanting to get close to penguins, but just how far do tourists go to get that penguin family portrait when no-one is watching?

An Otago Daily Times analysis of one source of information about the habits and interests of tourists threw up some interesting statistics. is a leading online photographic site where anyone can post their photographs so they can then be viewed by other site users.

It reveals the subjects of most interest to those who post photographs.

For instance the search "cat" throws up 4,498,279 images, "New Zealand" 1,387,756 images "Auckland Sky Tower" 9512 images and "Milford Sound, New Zealand", 33,015 images.

But, as well as image numbers, the site reveals where the photographers were standing when they took their photographs.

For instance, the place where photographers took most of the 179 images for "Cromwell fruit" was within a few metres of the giant, artificial fruit at the entrance to the town.

So, how does that apply to penguins? Firstly, the numbers.

Tourists obviously value photographs of penguins, at least as much as Dunedin's other tourist attractions.

"Yellow eyed penguin" threw up 3533 images and "Otago penguin" 1579.

Compare that with the search result for "Larnach Castle" 1800, "Taieri Gorge Railway" 1143, "Dunedin Railway Station" 1068, and "albatross Otago" 768.

How close did they get to their quarry?

Of the 95 images under "Sandfly Bay penguins", about 90% are taken from a respectful distance.

Only a handful of photographers were close to the penguins.


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