10 places to spot a kiwi in New Zealand

New Zealand’s national symbol is a shy little character who usually only makes an appearance after dark.

Kiwi chick at Rainbow Springs, Rotorua

Unsurprisingly perhaps, given the threat these flightless birds face from introduced predators such as stoats and ferrets.

Despite hatching from the egg fully feathered and able to feed themselves, they often require a little help from their human friends to make it to adulthood. Programmes such as the National Kiwi Hatchery play an important role in kiwi conservation by incubating eggs and hatching chicks at centres around New Zealand.

Despite their relatively small numbers, your clients can see this bird in real life at a number of kiwi houses and sanctuaries around New Zealand. If they are really lucky, they might even catch a glimpse of one in the wild.

  • Rainbow Springs Rotorua – The hard work of kiwi experts at the National Kiwi Hatchery has now led to 2000 successful hatchings and they play a hugely important role in kiwi conservation. Visitors can view the incubation and hatching work by purchasing a National Kiwi Hatchery tour.
  • Rotoroa Island – Auckland’s Rotoroa Island is found in the Hauraki Gulf and is home to over 25 North Island brown kiwi. There is accommodation on the island so stay the night for your best chance of seeing or hearing a kiwi.
  • Otorohanga Kiwi House  – Otorohanga Kiwi House has been conserving kiwi and other New Zealand natives since 1971. Visitors can learn about their active brown kiwi breeding programme from the friendly and knowledgeable guides in the heart of the North Island.
  • 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 near Cambridge. They have just launched a New Zealand first where visitors can be a part of a kiwi release.
  • Pukaha National Wildlife Centre – Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, in the Wairarapa, pioneered captive breeding techniques for some of the New Zealand’s most threatened birds. Pukaha is home to Manukura, a rare white kiwi, hatched in 2011.
  • Kāpiti Island – The Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, 5km off the west coast at the southern end of the North Island, is one New Zealand’s most important sites for bird recovery. The little spotted kiwi, now extinct from the mainland forests, also thrives on Kapiti Island. Kapiti Island Nature Tours offer day trips including return transfers to nearby Wellington.
  • Zealandia – Just a few minutes by car from downtown Wellington and nestled in a forested valley, Zealandia is an outdoor haven for some of New Zealand’s rarest native birds and animals and a living monument to world-leading conservation efforts. On a night-time tour, you may just spot one of the 130 little spotted kiwi who call Zealandia home.
  • Willowbank Wildlife Reserve – Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch incubates eggs for up to four species of kiwi – Ōkarito Rowi, Haast Tokoeka, Great Spotted and North Island Brown. Visit the reserve to see the dedicated team in action as they continue to hatch and re-release kiwi back into the wild.
  • Orokonui Sanctuary – The 307ha Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary – 20km north of Dunedin– is restoring an entire forest ecosystem to its pre-human state. Visit the kiwi creche where the team raise the rarest of all kiwi, the Haast tokoeka.
  • Stewart Island  – The Real Journeys Kiwi Encounter is one of the ultimate kiwi experiences. Join an expert guide as you enjoy a short boat ride, followed by a walk through coastal forest, before reaching Ocean Beach. Here in the darkness you will get to see the Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) in the wild as it searches for its dinner.