Mid-August: The 28-week breeding season begins when partnerships are formed or renewed, and nest sites selected. A suitable nest site must be hidden from other breeding pairs, have a solid back such as a log, rock or flax plant, and provide shelter from harsh weather and the heat of the sun. Mating takes place.
Mid-September/October: Two greenish-white eggs, about 75x55 mm in size, are laid. Both parents share the incubation, which takes about 43 days.
November/December: The eggs hatch and the guard stage begins. This is a 40-50 day period when one parent will stay at the nest and brood while the other fishes. Upon their return in the afternoon they perform an elaborate greeting ceremony of trills and calls before feeding their hungry chicks a regurgitated soup of fish and squid. Although guarded constantly during this stage, the chicks are still vulnerable to attack by stoats, ferrets and cats.
January: By the time the chicks are six to seven weeks old, both parents must fish each day to satisfy the voracious appetites of their demanding young. This is called the post-guard stage and towards the end the chicks will lose their soft brown down and moult into their waterproof plumage.
February: The chicks fledge and go to sea, an extremely hazardous time, with fewer than 20% surviving to maturity.
March/April: The parents have just a few weeks to recover and put on weight before beginning the annual 3 to 4 week moult. They are confined ashore as they wait for their old feather coat to be replaced. This is a very dangerous time as energy levels are low and there is always the threat of starvation and attack by predators.
Early-May: Sleek and shining in their new waterproof plumage, the penguins head out to sea but return every night to sleep, preen and socialise. Soon it will be August and the busy breeding season will begin again. About 50% of surviving juveniles will return to breed at the place where they were hatched.
The breeding season is one of the longest for all penguins. Yellow-eyed penguins are devoted parents. Incubation of eggs and raising of young are shared responsibilities. During a good breeding season many yellow-eyed penguin pairs will successfully raise two chicks.