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Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand


See a real life kiwi!

Considering kiwis are New Zealand’s national icon, you would think they are be everywhere. They’re not. Kiwis are not only an endangered species but nocturnal so chances of just bumping into one is very slim. However, because Kiwis love kiwis, there are plenty of conservation projects set up to protect these native flightless birds. Additionally, there are sanctuaries and zoos to see a real life kiwi.

Kiwi spotting in NZ

Spotting a kiwi is on many traveller’s bucket lists when visiting New Zealand, so we’ve divided this article into the 3 methods of seeing a kiwi:

  • Where to see a kiwi in the wild.
  • See a kiwi in a sanctuary.
  • Where to see a kiwi in captivity.
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The kiwi’s natural habitat is in remote forest areas, usually nesting in burrows, hollow logs or under vegetation. You are more likely to hear the males’ loud screeching call or the females’ hissing sound in the wild. For those determined enough to see a kiwi in its natural habitat, kiwi spotting tours will give you a better chance of making dreams come true.

Places to see a wild kiwi are:

  • Waipoua Forest, Northland
  • Aroha Island, Kerikeri
  • Warkwarth, North Auckland Peninsula
  • Kapiti Island
  • Okarito, Franz Josef
  • Tuatapere, Southland
  • Dunedin, Otago
  • Stewart Island


Kiwi Sanctuary

Zealandia, just outside Wellington city, is a valley sanctuary and tourist attraction where you can see kiwis and many other native New Zealand wildlife in their natural habitat, albeit a controlled habitat. The 225ha area is protected by a specially designed fence to protect the wildlife within from any mammalian pests. Zealandia puts on night tours to see the little spotted kiwi.

There are also 5 sanctuaries supported by the Department of Conservation, allowing more kiwis to survive and increase the population. These sanctuaries are:

  • The Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary, Northland
  • The Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary, Coromandel
  • Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary, Ruapehu
  • The Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, West Coast
  • The Haast Tokoeka Sanctuary, South West Coast

The sanctuaries of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and Waimarino Forest are also safe havens in the North Island. Follow our story on releasing a kiwi into the wild here: Saving Smaug the Kiwi Bird.


Kiwis in captivity

There are various places in New Zealand to see a kiwi in captivity. The brown kiwi is permanently  kept in captivity, whereas the captivity of little spotted and grey spotted kiwis are being reduced. Kiwis are held in captive facilities for research, practice captive management skills, and for tourism. Here are some of the places you can see a kiwi in captivity:

  • Kiwi North, Whangarei
  • Auckland Zoo
  • Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs, Rotorua (admission fee is a 100% donation to the National Kiwi Trust).
  • Kiwi House and Native Bird Park, Otorohanga
  • The National Aquarium of New Zealand, Napier
  • Pukaha, Mount Bruse National Wildlife Centre, Wairarapa
  • Wellington Zoo
  • Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch
  • Kiwi Birdlife Park, Queenstown
  • National Kiwi Centre, Hokitika
  • Westcoast Wildlife Centre, Franz Josef

Facts about kiwis

  • Kiwis are the only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak.
  • Female kiwis are larger than males.
  • There are 5 species of kiwi.
  • There are about 70000 kiwi in New Zealand.
  • The kiwi first became a national symbol in the 19th century when they appeared on regimental badges.

Want to help protect kiwi birds? Check out our article on: 5 Ways to Save a Kiwi Bird.

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