The kiwi is one of the most unusual birds in the world and is a native of New Zealand. Although widespread throughout the country before the arrival of humans more than a thousand years ago, the kiwi has been greatly reduced in numbers.
While the best places to see kiwis today are kiwi houses, there are still some parts of the country where it is relatively easy to see a kiwi in the wild.
Kiwis are still to be found in many parts of the country. However, they are generally in remote mountain and forest areas. Being nocturnal and naturally very shy, it makes the chance of seeing a kiwi when our walking or hiking rather unlikely.
However, there are some places that have been set aside to allow you to see the kiwi in its natural habitat. There are also a number of tour companies which specialize in kiwi spotting tours. Here is a list of the best wild kiwi encounter opportunities in New Zealand.
This is a small island and mangrove swamp linked to the mainland by a causeway. Also on the island is accommodation, venue center, private beach and other activities. Kiwis will be found roaming the native bush on the island. It is located just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands.
The Waipoua and Trounson Forests comprise one of the last remaining areas of native kauri forest in New Zealand. The Trounson Kauri Park is part of the forest and a reserve with many walking tracks. On one of these, you may be lucky enough to spot a kiwi. There is no cost of entry to the park.
This conservation park of more than 225 hectares offers some amazing experiences and insights into New Zealand's natural history. It is the first fully-fenced eco-sanctuary within an urban environment (just 2 kilometers from central Wellington). For the best chance to see a kiwi, take a night tour.
- Recommended: Zealandia by Night Tour
This small island near Wellington is a nature reserve and a haven for rare New Zealand native birds and plants. Managed by the Department of Conservation, there is also accommodation available on the island for overnight stays.
- Recommended: Kapiti Island Nature Tours
This is a small, family-owned company, specializing in small-group kiwi-watching tours. Located in a remote part of the South Island, they provide a unique way to experience the New Zealand wilderness, including the rare Okarito kiwi species.
Kiwi Wildlife Tours leads bird-watching trips throughout New Zealand, including some of the offshore islands. They also offer tours in other parts of the South Pacific, such as New Caledonia, Tahiti, and Fiji. If you are a bird lover, this is the company to talk to about New Zealand.
This provides a good opportunity to explore Stewart Island (New Zealand's third-largest island) and neighboring Ulva Island in the far south of the country. This company provides a variety of guided tours, including natural history, bird watching, and kiwi spotting. 85% of Stewart Island is Rakiura, a national park of New Zealand, and the terrain is some of the most pristine to be found anywhere.