New Zealand Kiwi

Kiwis are unique flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. Prior to humans finding New Zealand, the number of Kiwi has been estimated to have been millions on these islands. Since humans introduced predators to what was previously a predator free environment, Kiwi numbers have reduced dramatically.

Little Spotted Kiwi

Little Spotted Kiwi / kiwi, pukupuku. Apteryx owenii. New Zealand

Kiwi Bird Facts

Kiwi Bird

Kiwi Bird, North Island, New Zealand

  • Kiwis are flightless
  • Most Kiwis are nocturnal
  • Kiwis have poor eyesight and their eyes are sensitive to light
  • Kiwi feathers are similar to hair
  • Kiwi nostrils are at the end of their beaks and they have an excellent sense of smell
  • Kiwis are omnivores; their diet consists of both plant and animal origins
  • Kiwi eggs are enormous and take up about 20% of their body size
  • Kiwi chicks hatch fully feathered
  • Kiwi chicks are not fed by their parents but feed themselves outside of the nest after a few days
  • Young Kiwis take between three and five years to grow to adult and can live for between 25 and 50 years
Great Spotted Kiwi - (Brown Kiwi in Background)

Great Spotted Kiwi / roa, roroa. Apteryx haastii. Auckland Museum, New Zealand

New Zealand Kiwi Bird Conservation

Towards the end of 2016 it was estimated there were only around 68,000 Kiwi left. Even though, when potential extinction of Kiwi became apparent decades earlier when there were an estimated 100,000.

The problem is that the numbers are reducing at a rate of 2% per year due to the impact of human introduced predators such as dogs, stoats, rats, and possums. And of course, humans are also a threat through destruction of habitat, increase in agriculture, and resulting changes to the ecosystems.

The Department of Conservation launched the Kiwi Recovery Plan 2017-2027 to try to turn that 2% loss into 2% growth.

Southern Brown Kiwi - (Great Spotted Kiwi in Background)

Little Spotted Kiwi / kiwi, pukupuku. Apteryx owenii. New Zealand

New Zealand Government Zero Predator Goal

The New Zealand Government also have a goal that they are backing up with millions of dollars of investment. The government wants to achieve a goal of zero predators across the entire country by the year 2050, including the mainland islands. I firmly believe the hardest part of achieving this goal by far will be getting people to control their cats and dogs. One of the main issues to address is that domestic dogs kill a large number of the flightless Kiwi because they can’t escape. Dogs kill 27 Kiwi a week on average.

Brown Kiwi and Egg Specimen

Brown Kiwi and Egg Specimen. Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand

Kiwi Bird Species and Genetic Research

If you don’t know very much about New Zealand Kiwi you would be forgiven for thinking there is just one species. Prior to the 1980s, when science wasn’t advanced enough to identify the full range of species, it was thought there were three separate species, but since the 1980s, there have been five species of Kiwi scientifically identified.

Kiwi Skeleton at Auckland War Memorial Museum

Kiwi Bird Skeleton at Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand

Through genetic research, the Great Spotted kiwi and the Little Spotted kiwi were identified as being completely two separate species. The Brown kiwi was also separated into three different species, now identified as North Island Brown kiwi, Okarito Brown kiwi, and Southern Brown kiwi.

Southern Brown Kiwi

Southern Brown Kiwi / tokoeka. Apteryx australis. New Zealand

But wait for it; this may not be the end of kiwi identification story. Due to geographical variations there may be different varieties within the list of 5 species, even up to as many as 11 species.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can read about it in a research paper published in 2016, Explosive Ice Age Diversification of Kiwi.

Species of Kiwi

These are the five currently recognised species of Kiwi

North Island Brown Kiwi

Apteryx mantelli
Conservation Declining

Great Spotted Kiwi / roa, roroa

Apteryx haastii
Conservation Vulnerable

Okarito Brown Kiwi / rowi

Apteryx rowi
Conservation Vulnerable

Little Spotted Kiwi / kiwi, pukupuku

Apteryx owenii
Conservation Recovering

Southern Brown Kiwi / tokoeka

Apteryx australis
Conservation Endangered

Where Kiwi Species Live

  • Brown kiwi - North Island
  • Great spotted kiwi - North West of South Island and Arthur’s Pass, South Island
  • Little spotted kiwi - on several islands offshore, and at two sanctuaries on the mainland
  • Rowi - Okarito, West Coast of the South Island
  • Tokoeka - South Islands Fiordland and Haast Range, and Rakiura, Stewart Island

Where New Zealand Kiwi are in Captivity

Kiwi on the North Island

Whangarei, Northland

Kiwi North

Auckland

Auckland Zoo

Rotorua

Rainbow Springs
Te Puia

Otorohanga

Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park

Napier

National Aquarium of New Zealand

Waikanae

Nga Manu Trust

Wairarapa

Pukaha Mount Bruce, National Wildlife Centre

Wellington

Wellington Zoo

Kiwi on the South Island

Christchurch

Orana Wildlife Park
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Queenstown

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Hokitika

National Kiwi Centre

Franz Josef

Westcoast Wildlife Centre

Where New Zealand Kiwi are in the Wild

Wild Kiwi - North Island

Northland

Waipoua Forest
Trounson Kauri Park
Aroha Island Ecological Centre
Russell Nature Walks

Auckland

Kiwi Wildlife Tours
Habitat Tours

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island Nature Tours

Wellington

Zealandia

Wild Kiwi South Island

Franz Josef

Okarito Kiwi Tours

Tuatapere

Kiwi Wilderness Walks

Dunedin

Nature Quest New Zealand Ltd
Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Stewart Island

Wild Kiwi Encounter
Kiwi Wilderness Walks
Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience

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List of birds in New Zealand and a list of animals in New Zealand