Spotting a kiwi is an essential New Zealand experience.

Spotting a kiwi is an essential New Zealand experience.

Kiwi birds are a New Zealand icon and one of the most curious birds in the world. While travelling New Zealand, here are 10 places you can see these small nocturnal birds up close. 

1. The National Kiwi Hatchery

The National Kiwi Hatchery at Rainbow Springs plays a hugely important role in kiwi conservation, incubating and hatching over 130 kiwi chicks each year.

Their work is crucial to the survival of kiwi, as only 5% of kiwi chicks hatched in the wild will make it to adulthood. As a result of predators such as stoats, cats, and dogs, the brown kiwi population is steadily declining by around 3% a year.

Visitors can view the incubation and hatching of kiwi birds by joining one of the tours.

2. Rotoroa Island

Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is home to more than 25 North Island brown kiwi. Managed by The Rotoroa Island Trust, a small group of keen conservationists, the island is now an idyllic wildlife sanctuary only a few hours by ferry from Auckland city.

There is accommodation on the island so stay the night for your best chance of seeing or hearing a kiwi.

3. Otorohanga Kiwi House

Otorohanga Kiwi House has been protecting kiwi and other New Zealand native birds since 1971. Visitors can learn about their active brown kiwi breeding programme from knowledgeable guides in the heart of the North Island.

4. Maungatautari Sanctuary Mountain

Rare and endangered New Zealand wildlife - including takahe, kiwi and tuatara - are thriving on Sanctuary Mountain at Maungatautari, a unique eco-sanctuary south of Hamilton. Visit Maungatautari to have the unique opportunity to take part in a kiwi release as part of their very special Kiwi Experience tour. The team at Maungatautari aim to release 500 kiwi over five years in partnership with the organisation Kiwis for kiwi

5. Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, in the Wairarapa, runs successful captive breeding programmes for some of New Zealand’s most threatened birds.

Visitors will learn about Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre's conservation work and see birds such as the titipounamu (rifleman), kārearea (New Zealand falcon) and the kererū (wood pigeon) in the aviaries. Visitors may also see advocacy birds like Kahurangi the famous kōkako.

6. Kāpiti Island

The Kāpiti Island Nature Reserve is one of New Zealand’s pioneering sites for bird recovery. The little spotted kiwi, now extinct from the mainland, thrives on Kāpiti Island.

The island is easily accessible from Wellington, located only a one hour drive north of the capital city, and reached by a short ferry trip.

The best way to visit is by staying overnight on a Kāpiti Island Nature Tour.

7. Zealandia

Nestled in a forested valley between Wellington city suburbs, Zealandia is a predator-free sanctuary for New Zealand’s rarest native birds and animals. The extraordinary vision and dedication of Zealandia make this wildlife haven a living monument to world-leading conservation efforts.

8. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch incubates eggs for four out of five species of kiwi – Ōkarito rowi, Haast tokoeka, great spotted kiwi and North Island brown kiwi. Visit the reserve to see the dedicated team in action as they continue to hatch and re-release kiwi back into the wild.

9. West Coast Wildlife Centre

The West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef is the largest kiwi hatching facility in the South Island, working in partnership with DOC to hatch the rarest kiwi, the rowi. To date, the centre has hatched over 315 rowi kiwi. With only 450 left alive in the wild today, the West Coast Wildlife Centre has played a vital role in helping to bring this bird back from the brink of extinction. 

Stewart Island/Rakiura

RealNZ's Kiwi Encounter is one of the ultimate ways to see kiwi birds in the wild in New Zealand in their natural habitat. Join an expert guide on a walk through coastal forest, before reaching Little Glory Cove. Here you may get to see the Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura tokoeka) foraging in the wild as it searches for its dinner. 

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