8 Great Places to See Kiwi

Photography by: WILLOWBANK WILDLIFE CENTRE / PUKAHA MOUNT BRUCE WILDLIFE CENTRE / TOURISM NEW ZEALAND


Despite their relatively small population, you can see a kiwi in real life at a number of kiwi houses and sanctuaries around New Zealand. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of them in the wild. Here are eight places around New Zealand to see this amazing bird.

Rainbow Springs Kiwi
Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs – Rotorua

Located among flourishing native forest and natural springs, Rainbow Springs is home to the National Kiwi Hatchery. This world-leading hatchery has hatched more than 2000 kiwi chicks to date. Here, you can see real conservation in action. You can support the centre by purchasing a National Kiwi Hatchery tour, and if you’re lucky you may even witness a kiwi chick hatch, or see one getting a health check.

Rainbow Springs kiwi spotting
Rainbow Springs

Rotorua Island – Auckland

Rotoroa Island can be found in the Hauraki Gulf and is home to over 25 North Island brown kiwi. There is accommodation on the island, so plan to stay the night for your best chance of seeing or hearing a kiwi. Managed by the Rotoroa Island Trust, a small group of keen conservationists, an idyllic wildlife sanctuary has been created sitting just off the coast of Auckland city and open for everyone to enjoy. The island also has a museum and exhibition centre where you can learn more about its unique history.

Otorohanga Kiwi House

Planning a trip to Waitomo? Be sure to add a stop at the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park to your itinerary. The Kiwi House has over 20 brown kiwi on site as part of a nationwide captive breeding programme, and has been conserving kiwi and other New Zealand natives since 1971. Join in on one of the daily keeper talks to hear more about the work done at this amazing facility.

Pukaha National Wildlife Centre – Wairarapa

Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre pioneered captive breeding techniques for some of New Zealand’s most threatened birds. Pukaha is home to Manukura, a rare white kiwi, hatched in 2011. Wander through the bush-clad walking tracks and see native wildlife in their enclosures, including the free-flight aviary.

Pukaha Mount Bruce Nation Wildlife Centre
White is the new brown at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre – this cute little chick is the latest addition to the family of rare ‘all white’ kiwi

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve – Christchurch

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve incubates eggs for up to four species of kiwi – Okarito rowi, Haast tokoeka, great spotted, and North Island brown. Willowbank was the first to open a glass-free nocturnal house for kiwi in a natural environment, guaranteeing viewings every time.

Willowbank wildlife centre kiwi
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch has created artificial night-time environments so visitors can walk (silently) through an enclosure within metres of the birds

Orokonui EcoSanctuary – Dunedin

The 307ha Orokonui Ecosanctuary – 20km north of Dunedin – plays an important role in Haast tokoeka kiwi conservation. This is the rarest of all kiwi, with only five percent of chicks reaching adulthood in the wild. The Ecosanctuary includes a 14ha kiwi crèche, where up to 14 juveniles can grow to at least the 1.2kg they need to be to defend themselves from their main predator – stoats. They are then returned to their original habitat in South Westland.

KylieDay Kiwi _5_.jpg

National Kiwi Centre – Hokitika

The National Kiwi Centre is situated in the heart of Hokitika and provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with New Zealand’s national icons. You can engage directly with their wildlife keepers to learn more about New Zealand’s fascinating flightless birds.

National Kiwi Trust - weighing kiwi chick.jpg
National Kiwi Trust - weighing kiwi

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. 

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