Standing quiet and still in the dark on an isolated muddy track, staring into the dense forest foliage, might seem like an odd thing to be doing. But according to the man that brought us here, it’s the only way to go about trying to see a Kiwi in the wild.
On that particular night, however, the Kiwi bird was nowhere to be seen.
Flightless, elusive, and naturally nocturnal, the funny looking Kiwi bird turns out to be a hard one to track down.
Even most New Zealanders, known worldwide as ‘Kiwis’, haven’t managed to set eyes on their elusive namesakes in the wild.
But if you are determined to try, here are two places to go:
It’s New Zealand’s third largest island, with some of the most pristine terrain to be found, and one of the most likely places to find a kiwi.
A small island just north Wellington, Kapiti Island is a nature reserve and home to many rare New Zealand native birds and plants.
And if that fails, there is a number of Kiwi sanctuaries and nocturnal houses around the country open to the public where you can see a kiwi or two, not in the wild, but at least in an environment that resembles its natural habitat.
Here’s a three worth checking out:
An easy ten-minute drive from the center of Wellington, Zealandia, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is a must see for anyone visiting New Zealand’s capital city. The country’s only fully-fenced eco-sanctuary within an urban environment, it offers the ‘Zealandia by night’ tour which promises possible Kiwi sighting, as well as other rare and endangered birds
Located in the lower North Island, on the outskirts of Otorohanga, a town best known for it’s self-branding as New Zealland’s official Kiwiana Town for Kiwi culture. Determined Kiwi spotters should check out the nighttime Kiwi Watch eco-tour, where they can enjoy close-up viewing of the elusive bird in it’s natural habitat.
Kiwi Wildlife Park at Rainbow Spring
A bit further north, in Rotorua, the Kiwi Encounter at Kiwi Wildlife Park at Rainbow Springs is a purpose-built conservation center where visitors can see kiwi chicks and watch more mature Kiwis poking around for food.