Young kiwi flouts social distancing rule


News travels slowly on Little Barrier Island/Te Hauturu-o-Toi, and one of its inhabitants is clearly not keeping up to date with recent global developments.

For the resident Department of Conservation ranger family – Dr Leigh Joyce, Richard Walle and their two children – New Zealand’s lockdown hasn’t much changed day-to-day life on their island sanctuary, where they live in close proximity to some of the country’s most endangered species.  

But apparently even they were surprised to hear a polite tap on the door one afternoon, only to find a young kiwi bird peering through the door’s glass panel.  


The little kiwi then made its way around the house, probing with its long beak, before finding a way in through an open ranch slider.  

Not wanting to stress the rare bird by attempting to catch it, the rangers allowed it to casually explore the house (completely ignoring the 2-metre social distancing rule), before slowly heading back out into the forest.  

Kiwi are shy birds, and usually nocturnal, but it is not uncommon to see them during the day on this island sanctuary. The rangers concluded the kiwi was neither distressed nor dehydrated, just curious. 

“The behaviour of the young kiwi suggests that it did not feel threatened by humans – we were just part of the scenery – no different from any other species on the island.  

“It’s an amazing experience to feel part of nature rather than separated from it, and Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) emphasises the importance of predator-free sanctuaries,” said Dr Leigh Joyce. 

A young kiwi eating a giant centipede was spotted the following day in the rangers’ garden, thought to be the same bird.  

About Little Barrier Island: 

Positioned at the outer edge of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, north of Auckland, Little Barrier Island/ Te Hauturu-o-Toi is a relic of ancient New Zealand. Founded in 1896, it is New Zealand’s first nature reserves. With more than 40 species of birds permanently or seasonally present, two bat species and 14 species of reptiles, the island supports the most diverse native fauna of any island in the country.