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.


At the Otorohanga Kiwi House we display three of the five kiwi species (the Brown Kiwi, the Little Spotted Kiwi and the Great Spotted Kiwi) and have an active Brown Kiwi breeding programme.


We have been conserving and breeding Kiwi since 1971 and were the first Kiwi House in New Zealand to display and breed kiwi in captivity for release back to the wild. To date we have successfully hatched over 150 kiwi chicks. We continue to hatch and raise kiwi chicks for release into predator-controlled areas. Together with other zoos we maintain a kiwi population for education and advocacy.


Many of our resident Kiwi are in large off-display enclosures nearby, where they are free to raise chicks. A number of these offspring are released into carefully chosen habitats to increase the number and genetic diversity of kiwi in the wild.


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 occasional berries. New leaf litter is brought into enclosures from forested areas each fortnight containing seasonal insects and berries. Logs filled with insect life are also brought in for the kiwi to 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, 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) - North Island species

  • Great Spotted Kiwi (roroa) (Apteryx haastii) - South Island species

  • Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) - South Island species

  • Rowi (Apteryx rowi) - South Island species

  • Tokoeka (Apteryx australis) - South Island species


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 in trouble. (Brown Kiwi are classified as in 'serious decline', Rowi and Haast Tokoeka are classified as 'nationally critical,' Great Spotted Kiwi and the other Tokoeka taxa are classified as in "gradual decline” and Little Spotted Kiwi as classified as “range restricted”).

  • 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 very 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.

  • Kiwi are generally nocturnal forest dwellers. During the day they sleep in burrows, hollow logs or under thick vegetation.

  • 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%).

  • 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.


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:
10 March 2016


Where he lives:
Nocturnal House


Personality Profile:

  • Kuwi is still young and gets quite dominated by his big stroppy female companion 'Toa'. She wakes him up at all hours when she can't sleep!

  • Kuwi is named after a character in a children's book series written by local author Kat Mereweather. The series currently includes books such as 'Kuwi's First Egg' and 'Kuwi's Huhu Hunt' and 'Kuwi's very Shiny Bum'. We like the way Kuwi the brown kiwi takes after the book character and has lots of adventures exploring his enclosure - particularly splashing in the pond!

  • Kuwi loves his meal times and will be ready and waiting for the Keepers when they enter his enclosure.



“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


Tasman the Great Spotted Kiwi - Otorohanga Kiwi House




Great Spotted Kiwi

Video of Tasman: Wake Up Tasman

Hatch date:
6 November, 1995


Where she lives:
Tasman spends the winter months in her outdoor enclosure and then spends the summer months in one of our nocturnal houses.


Mum: “Heaphy” (hatched at the Otorohanga Kiwi House)
“Bruce” (caught in the wild in 1981)


Personality Profile:

  • Tasman is a very territorial kiwi who defends her enclosure by sometimes kicking her keepers. She has also been known to beat up sticks for no reason!

  • If you can't see here out and about in her enclosure, she's probably sleeping in one of her burrows. Check out the live video from the burrow cameras for a peep into her boudoir! You'll see her on the TV screen in the entry foyer. 

  • She is a very messy eater and spreads her porridge mixture far and wide






Little Spotted Kiwi

Video of Kapiti: Little Spots Big Adventure, Kapiti's Burrow Camera

Hatch date:
Unknown. Caught in the wild on Kapiti Island - 11 April, 1980


Where he lives:
In the "Kiwi Night Zone" nocturnal house


Personality Profile:

  • Kapiti doesn’t like sultanas. He will thoroughly clean his food dish and leave them behind

  • He is currently enjoying his retirement in our "Kiwi Night Zone" as the soil is very soft after it has been hand sieved and metal detected to ensure he can't ingest any foreign objects. Soft soil enables Kapiti to dig multiple burrows in the enclosure which keeps him really fit.

  • If you can't see him in his enclosure, check the TV screen in the entry area and view  him on the burrow camera in one of his private sleeping quarters.





Brown Kiwi (Western Provenance)

Video of Dale: Dale the Brown Kiwi Chick's Big Adventure


Hatch date:
23 December 2015


Where she lives:
In one of our nocturnal houses


Mum: “Anahera”, Dad: “Nouveau”


Personality Profile:

  • She is a exceptionally active and bossy. She wakes off and on throughout the day, when she should be sleeping, and always wakes up her partner Kuwi too. She quite often likes to sleep on top of Kuwi as well!

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

  • Toa was named by the US Ambassador to NZ, Mark Gibson. The name 'Toa' in Maori, means 'Courageous'. She is certainly living up to her name!!


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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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