The Kiwi House Story

The Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park – From dream to reality

The Dream:
To rescue New Zealand's unique birds and reptiles from the ravages of predators and de-forestation.

Kiwi House aerial viewThe Visionaries:
A pharmacist, a brick layer and a doctor.

The Reality:

  • A sanctuary for New Zealand's unique native birds and reptiles, many rarely seen in the wild
  • A tourist attraction with educational opportunities for visitors
  • A breeding centre undertaking scientific research, sharing knowledge and reintroducing species to the wild.

In 1969 the idea of a Nocturnal House to display live kiwi was born and in February 1971 construction of a purpose-built nocturnal Kiwi House began. It was paid for with donations and foundation membership and built with voluntary labour.

The Kiwi House was a New Zealand first, allowing for the shy nocturnal bird to be viewed throughout the day.

The Otorohanga Kiwi House opened to the public on 17 July 1971.

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park – Time Line

  • Initial concept for a Nocturnal House to display live Kiwi
NZ's first nocturnal Kiwi house [1971]

Barry Rowe with a Kiwi chick hatched from one of his specially designed incubators [1978]
  • New Zealand's first Kiwi House open to the public on July 17
  • First Kiwi egg is laid
  • Pond areas developed, waterfowl introduced, first male Kiwi arrives, plus an extra breeding pair
  • A second nocturnal enclosure is built
  • First 2 Kiwi chicks hatched in January
  • Construction work on the Australasia's largest Walkthrough Aviary begins in August
  • Great Spotted Kiwi on display for the first time in New Zealand
  • In August, Dr William Calder III arrived from USA to study Kiwis
  • First artificially incubated Kiwi egg weighing 326 grams hatched on 10 January with the hatching televised in 48 countries
  • Aviary construction completed
  • 50th Kiwi egg laid
  • Two Kiwi donated to Frankfurt Zoo
  • Curator from Rotterdam Zoo arrives to collect 2 female Kiwi
  • NZ Falcon hatched
  • First mainland colony of captive Tuatara established
  • 3 Kiwi sent to Brookfield Zoo, Chicago
  • 3 Kiwi chicks to Osaka Zoo, Japan
  • 100th Kiwi egg laid
Kiwi Nocturnal House, Barry Rowe Aviary, Tuatara & Kiwi Enclosures [1982]

Barry Rowe Aviary [1986]
  • New Kea Aviary completed
  • Sonar scan of Tuatara (one was carrying up to 17 eggs)
  • First baby Tuatara found in December
  • Kaka Aviary completed January
  • Artificially incubated Tuatara eggs hatch
  • Harrier display aviary completed
  • Large Walkthrough Aviary officially opened May 14 and named the 'Barry Rowe Aviary'
  • 'Birds of Prey' complex opened to the public
  • First Great Spotted Kiwi hatches from incubator
  • "ADOPT A KIWI HOUSE CRITTER" programme gets under way
  • Orange-fronted Parakeets arrive
  • Cape Barren Geese arrive
  • North Island Brown Kiwi transferred to Osaka Zoo, Japan
  • First Little Spotted Kiwi chick hatches naturally in enclosure with parent birds
  • Second Little Spotted Kiwi hatches successfully
  • Park celebrates its 21st birthday
  • Pair of Little Spotted Kiwi arrives from Kapiti Island
  • Third Little Spotted Kiwi hatches successfully
  • Kiwi release programme established at the Mapara
  • Reserve using captive reared birds
  • Marlborough Green Geckos arrive at Otorohanga
  • Kiwi Watch Night Viewing starts in November
  • Otorohanga Kiwi House celebrates its 30th anniversary on 14 July
  • For the first time, two Northern Brown Kiwi released into a private reserve near Cambridge
  • Native Fresh water fish exhibit is established at the park
  • A pair of New Zealand Robins released in the Barry Rowe Aviary
  • New waterfowl aviary constructed
  • First successful hatching of a Variable Oystercatcher in captivity
  • New Whio (Blue Duck) aviary constructed
  • New aviaries built for Antipodes Island Parakeets and Campbell Island Teal
  • Two Otorohanga bred juvenile Kiwi returned to Taranaki for release into the Tarata Marae reserve
  • Falcon Aviary officially opened by Prime Minister, John Key, on 12 February
  • July: The Park celebrates its 40th birthday
  • Bob's Aviary (in memory of founder, Bob Horsfall) opened to house Yellow-crowned Kakariki
  • New Ruru Aviary opened for the native owls (Morepork or Ruru)


Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner
Donate to Kiwi House ADOPT A KIWI HOUSE CRITTER program