Brown kiwi chicks hatched at the Otorohanga Kiwi House

Kiwi Conservation At The Otorohanga Kiwi House

The kiwi is New Zealand’s iconic national bird and an important part of our unique natural heritage. They are feisty, intelligent and inquisitve birds which is why New Zealanders like to call themselves 'Kiwis'.

We hold over twenty brown kiwi on site as part of a nationwide captive breeding programme for brown kiwi. We are also a pre-release conditioning site for brown kiwi preparing to be released into the wild. We currently hold Northland, western and eastern provenance brown kiwi.

When our kiwi are younger, we display them in specially designed nocturnal enclosures where the day and night cycles have been reversed. Visitors to the park can see these young kiwi during the day carrying out their normal kiwi behaviour such as probing for insects and earthworms in the soil, bathing in the ponds, and digging burrows or climbing logs. The enclosures have native plants, leaf litter, soil and logs that host a wide range of invertebrates and fruits which make up the majority of the kiwi diet. We also offer kiwi a specially prepared artificial diet to supplement the live food which enables us to feed kiwi if they are in transit or for some reason needed to be cared for in another setting. This also helpds keep kiwi in excellent body condition during breeding.

Our breeding age kiwi are in large off-display enclosures nearby, where they are free to raise their chicks. Once kiwi have been bred to capture their genetic material in the breeding programme they are released into predator controlled habitats to increase the number and genetic diversity of kiwi in the wild.

We have been conserving and breeding Kiwi since 1971 and were the first Kiwi House in New Zealand to display and breed kiwi and artificially incubate kiwi in captivity for release back to the wild. We have bred three species of kiwi on site; Brown Kiwi, Great Spotted Kiwi and Little Spotted Kiwi. To date we have successfully hatched over 160 kiwi chicks and released these to the wild. We are also involved in carrying out research that will assist kiwi survival in the wild and best practice in kiwi husbandry.




Kiwi diet

Our kiwi have plenty of natural food sources inside their enclosures. They probe in the soil and leaf litter for insects, worms, spiders and native berries. New leaf litter is brought into enclosures from forested areas each fortnight containing seasonal insects and berries that help to create variety in the kiwi diet. Logs filled with insect life are also brought in for the kiwi to rip into and explore. Their favourite berries at present are Coprosma robusta berries which are high in caffeine - no wonder they are very active kiwi! We supplement the kiwi's daily diet with an artificial diet fed out to all kiwi in captivity. It is made with minced beef (steak and ox heart), peas and corn, apples, pears and bananas, currants, a specific design of cat biscuits, wheatgerm, insect powder, CaCo3, corn and canola oil and a supplement called the 'Kiwi PreMix'. Our kiwi certainly dine well!


The 5 kiwi species:

  • Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) - These are found in the North island of New Zealand and are isolated into different geographic regions called provenances; Northland, Coromandel, Eastern and Western brown kiwi.

  • Great Spotted Kiwi (roroa) (Apteryx haastii) - Found in the high country of the north western side of the South Island

  • Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) - Found only on predator free islands like Kapiti Island and in predator free sanctuaries like Zealandia

  • Rowi (Apteryx rowi) - Found in the Okarito area on the west coast of the South Island

  • Tokoeka (Apteryx australis) - Found on Stewart Island, Fiordland and the west coast of the South Island


Quick facts

  • Kiwi are related to Australia’s emus and cassowaries and belong to a group of flightless birds called Ratites.

  • All 5 species of kiwi are endangered.     

  • Approximately 70,000 kiwi are left in the wild in New Zealand including off shore islands and predator controlled areas.

  • Kiwi are flightless, with powerful legs that make up a third of the bird’s weight.

  • Kiwi have poor eyesight, but their long probing beak gives them an acute sense of smell & touch.

  • Kiwi are the only bird to have nostrils at the end of the beak. They also have sensory pits at the tip of the beak, allowing them to feel the vibrations of prey moving underground.

  • Kiwi have a shaggy plumage with hair-like feathers and cat-like whiskers on the face and around the base of the beak. These super-sensitive whiskers have probably evolved to help them feel their way in the dark and sense vibrations of prey.

  • Kiwi are generally nocturnal forest dwellers. During the day they sleep in burrows, hollow logs or under thick vegetation. Kiwi can sometimes be seen during the day if food is scarce or in times of drought.

  • Kiwi have enormous eggs and one of the largest egg-to-body weight ratios of any bird. The egg weighs about 20% per cent of the female's body weight - that’s about six-times as big as normal for a bird of its size.  (The ostrich egg-to-body weight ratio is 2%). The benefit of such a large egg is that the chick which weighs around 300g on hatching does not require assistance from the adults to feed.

  • Females are larger than males with a slightly longer beak

  • Adult kiwi often mate for life and are very territorial

  • Kiwi males incubate the eggs for 70-85 days

  • Chicks are fully feathered when they hatch.  They emerge from the burrow to feed after about 5 days (they are not fed by their parents)

  • Juvenile male kiwi can reach sexual maturity at 18 months and females will lay their first eggs from 3-5 years old.

  • Kiwi are long-lived depending on the species. Estimates of twenty-five to fifty years have been given, but the actual lifespan of kiwi is still not known. The oldest kiwi at the Otorohanga Kiwi House arrived as adults to found the captive brown kiwi breeding programme in 1986 which makes them over 40 years old.


Atu the Kiwi - Otorohanga Kiwi House
Kea - Otorohanga Kiwi House
Tuatara - Otorohanga Kiwi House

Some of our Kiwi Stars



Kevin the Brown Kiwi - Otorohanga Kiwi HouseName:



Brown Kiwi (Western Provenance)


Hatch date:
4 May 2018


Where he lives:
Nocturnal House


Personality Profile:

  • 'Miharo' in the Maaori langauge means surprise. Miharo was hatched from a breeding pair where the male was 13 years old and thought to be infertile!

  • Miharo, like other young kiwi, has a high startle reflex and has been known to jump 30cm off the ground when he gets a surprise.

  • Miharo likes to snack a lot. He races out to his bowl of artificial diet, has a quick snack, then races off again to probe for live food.




“Anahera” – (Maori: ‘Angel’)


Brown Kiwi (Western Provenance)


Hatch date:
Unknown. Caught in the wild in in Te Wera, Taranaki in 1981 - one of the original founders of the captive kiwi population.


Where she lives:
Outdoor Pen


Personality Profile:

  • She is a very curvy lady weighing in at over 3kg – in great condition for a kiwi girl!

  • She is a wonderful mum - currently our best breeding female

  • Not only does she lay lots of eggs, but she likes to check up on dad to see he’s keeping the egg warm and safe







Brown Kiwi (Western Provenance)


Hatch date:
15 February 2017


Where she lives:
Kiwi Night Zone


Mum:  Kopu (Currently paired at the Kiwi House with Te Puia)
Dad:  Koko (released to the wild September 2017 on the Eastern Side of Taranaki Mounga. He has raised at least three chicks in the wild to date)


Personality Profile:

  • Whitu was named by the Governor General Dame Patsy Reedy in recognition of the fact she was the seventh chick raised at the Otorohanga Kiwi House in the season she visited.

  • Whitu loves home improvement. She likes to be in her burrow breaking up nesting material and dragging in new leaf litter. This makes the burrow nice and cosy for her and her mate Rata to snuggle into when the sun comes up.

  • Whitu is very tolerant of her mate Rata. He likes to dart around the enclosure and often taps her gently on the bottom as he follows her about. 







Brown Kiwi (Northland Provenance)


Hatch date:
Unknown. Caught in the wild as an adult in the Parakao area by Forest and Bird members and transferred to the Otorohanga Kiwi House on the 17 October 1983.


Where she lives:
In the 'Barry Rowe Aviary' (the large free-flight dome-shaped aviary)


Personality Profile:

  • Raki likes to climb up on her mesh feeder at times and usually tolerates other species like tuatara sitting beside her while she eats. If they annoy her though she will definitely give them a gentle kick to remind them she's the boss.

  • We suspect Raki is now approximately 40 years old or older. In the past scientists believed this would be beyond the age of producing fertile eggs so Raki was left to retire at the Otorohanga Kiwi House with her son Kaipo. Scientists now believe Brown Kiwi can live to be 50 years old or older. Raki is definitely a feisty older lady!

  • Raki loves to probe into banks and rotten logs and has a great time ripping the logs apart with her sharp claws.





Brown Kiwi (Western Provenance)



Hatch date:
17 November 2017


Where he lives:
In one of our nocturnal houses


Mum: “Anahera”, 

Dad: “Nouveau”


Personality Profile:

  • Taina is paired with Miharo at present and he is a lot braver than her with exploring new enrichment items.

  • Taina hates to be woken up for health checks and clacks his beak loudly in displeasure.

  • Taina loves to dig under logs and will nap in half formed burrows with his beak and head covered but his bottom still showing.        


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Kiwi - Otorohanga Kiwi House - Kiwi Conservation Since 1971

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park
20 Alex Telfer Drive, Otorohanga 3900
New Zealand

38°10’45.4”S  175°12’48.3”E

PHONE: +64 7 873 7391




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Map of Otorohanga's Kiwihouse