New Zealand Kiwi

Kiwi 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 Facts

Kiwi Bird

Kiwi Bird, North Island, New Zealand

  • Kiwis are flightless birds
  • Kiwi are endemic to New Zealand and not found anywhere else
  • 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 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 Predator Free 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.

For more information read: Predator Free 2050 Ltd Government owned

I personally believe one of the hardest parts of achieving this goal will be getting people to control their cats and dogs. One of the 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

Kiwi Species

These are the five currently recognised species of Kiwi, all of which are endemic to New Zealand.

North Island Brown Kiwi

Apteryx mantelli
Conservation Declining

Sounds of: Female North Island Brown Kiwi mp3 file opens in new window

Sounds of: Male North Island Brown Kiwi mp3 file opens in new window

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

Kiwi Research

If you don’t know very much about Kiwi New Zealand, 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 in New Zealand.

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 two completely 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.

Where Kiwi Live in New Zealand

Where New Zealand Kiwi are in Captivity

Kiwi on the North Island

Whangarei, Northland

Kiwi North


Auckland Zoo


Rainbow Springs
Te Puia


Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park


National Aquarium of New Zealand


Nga Manu Trust


Pukaha Mount Bruce, National Wildlife Centre


Wellington Zoo
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary

Kiwi on the South Island


Orana Wildlife Park
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve


Kiwi Birdlife Park


National Kiwi Centre

Franz Josef

Westcoast Wildlife Centre

Where New Zealand Kiwi are in the Wild

Wild Kiwi - North Island


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


Kiwi Wildlife Tours
Habitat Tours

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island Nature Tours



Wild Kiwi South Island

Franz Josef

Okarito Kiwi Tours


Kiwi Wilderness Walks


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