If I was to recommend one New Zealand location for kiwi watching it would be the region around Whangarei in Northland. Already a few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Sparky here. In March 2018, I made acquaintance with Ross and 3 of his friends. The 4 kiwi birds have been released into the wild at Parua Bay (Whangarei Heads), after settling over from the stoat free Limestone Island.
Since more than 15 years, Backyard Kiwi (WHLF) is monitoring wild kiwi in the area and capturing chicks shortly after they have been hatching. The birds then get transported to the predator free Limestone Island off the Whangarei Heads coast where they can grow and get strong enough to stand a chance of survival against all kinds of mammals populating New Zealand’s mainland.
Once strong enough (after 6 months or more), the kiwi are recaptured and brought back to Whangarei Heads to introduce wider genetic variety into the area. This might sound like a lenghty procedure, which still does not guarantee the kiwi’s survival once it’s back on the mainland. Still, the success rate speaks for itself: from previously 80 kiwi birds in the region (2001), the number went up to 800+ kiwi (2018). Their movements are tracked and regularly updated in this map, proving that the Whangarei Heads community can truly claim to have kiwi in their backyard.
Backyard Kiwi is organizing regular kiwi releases. If you would like to use the occasion to meet these nocturnal birds up close, keep an eye on their website or Facebook page, where they announce their release dates ahead of time.
Here is a short bonus video from the moment when the kiwi got placed into his new home in Parua Bay. Good luck little fellow!
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