Where to See a Kiwi Bird
The flightless fluff ball which is the kiwi bird is New Zealand’s cute yet fascinating national icon. However. seeing a kiwi bird might not be as easy as you think! The elusive kiwi is not only nocturnal, but it also forages in forests making them pretty difficult to see if you do manage to be in the right place. Nevertheless, there are a few selected places in New Zealand where your chances of seeing a kiwi bird are greatly increased due to higher populations, some species having daytime habits, and kiwi being kept in captivity for display and conservation purposes.
For a full list of where to see kiwi, check out our Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand, which lists all the best places to see them in the wild, in captivity and in sanctuaries. But for now, here are our picks of the 10 best places to see a kiwi bird in New Zealand!
1. Stewart Island
For a good chance to see kiwi birds in the wild, spend some time on Stewart Island. The third most populated New Zealand island actually has more kiwi than humans with an estimated 20,000 kiwi on the island. What’s more, the likelihood of stumbling upon a kiwi is further increased due to the fact that the species of kiwi on the island, the southern brown kiwi, is prone to foraging in the forest well into midday. The best places to see kiwi birds on Stewart Island are on Ulva Island and along the hiking trails around the Rakiura National Park – particularly Mason Bay.
Location: Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island
2. Trounson Kauri Park
Take a guided night walk into the Trounson Kauri Park (Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park offer tours) or venture yourself after dark on the Trounson Kauri Park Loop Track. Not only is it a fantastic location to see the giants of the forest, the kauri tree, but the forest is also home to North Island brown kiwi. Take the track slowly, avoid shining white light at any wildlife, and see what you discover!
Location: Trounson Kauri Park, Trounson Park Road, 38km (24 miles) north of Dargaville on the North Island.
3. Kiwi North
In the Northland city of Whangarei, Kiwi North holds a state of the art kiwi house changing day into night. That way, visitors can watch the kiwi doing their nightly habits without disturbing them. Kiwi North also holds other fascinating native wildlife like the tuatara, a living descendant of the dinosaur era, geckos, native fish and much more!
Location: 500 State Highway 14, 6km (3.7 miles) from Whangarei on the North Island.
4. Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre
On the subject of Whangarei, the Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre is next door to Kiwi North and may provide another opportunity to see kiwi birds. The Bird Recovery Centre is primarily a rehabilitation centre for injured birds, getting them fit for release back into the wild, so you will experience different bird viewings depending on which birds they have in recovery at the time. While seeing a kiwi isn’t a sure thing, it will be the closest encounter you can get in New Zealand. You might be lucky enough to meet the resident kiwi bird, Sparky, the one-legged kiwi who lives his life as an advocate for kiwi conservation after losing his leg and could not be released back into the wild.
Location: Next to Kiwi North, 6km (3.7 miles) from Whangarei on the North Island.
5. Waipoua Forest
The Waipoua Forest is an enchanting place giving the sense of experiencing New Zealand as it was before human migration to the islands. See the largest kauri trees of Tane Mahuta and Tane Mahuta Ngahere, otherwise known as the “Lord of the Forest” and the “Father of the Forest”. North Island brown kiwi are often spotted here after dark, whether it’s along the walking tracks of the Waipoua Forest, or even crossing the road through the Waipoua Forest – so keep an eye out and be careful!
Location: Waipoua Forest, Northland, North Island.
6. Rainbow Springs
See North Island brown kiwi chicks at the kiwi hatchery in Rainbow Springs, Rotorua. Kiwi eggs are taken from the wild, hatched and raised until the kiwi is about 1kg (2.2lbs) so it is strong enough to defend itself in the wild. Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs is a great way to learn about kiwi conservation and the initial stages of these birds’ lives. Find out more about Rainbow Springs on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 192 Fairy Springs Road, Fairy Springs, Rotorua on the North Island.
7. Otorohanga Kiwi House
Otorohanga is New Zealand’s “Kiwiana Capital” (and if you don’t know what that is, see What is Kiwiana?“), so of course, the town is a great place to see New Zealand’s national icon. See three of New Zealand’s five species of kiwi, the North Island brown, little spotted and great spotted kiwi. The Otorohanga Kiwi House displays kiwi in an artificial night environment for the purpose of breeding kiwi in captivity to be released into the wild.
Location: 20 Alex Telfer Drive, Otorohanga. North Island.
8. Ohope Scenic Reserve
You would not suspect this reserve in the bustling city of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty region would hold a population of kiwi. At night, the Ohope Scenic Reserve comes alive with native owls, insects and kiwi. It’s another great area to try your chances at spotting a kiwi in the wild.
Location: Ohope Scenic Reserve, Maraetotara, Whakatane on the North Island.
9. Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
This wildlife sanctuary covering 3,400 hectares (8,401 acres) is a safe haven for native wildlife. A predator-proof fence borders the mountain forest, protecting the native wildlife from the likes of stoats, possums and other land-based mammalian predators. It’s a national stronghold for western brown kiwi, in particular, seeing around 100 kiwi birds introduced to the sanctuary every year. Try your luck by taking a self-guided walk or a guided walk around the sanctuary, or join a “kiwi health check” tour. Find out more about Sanctuary Mountain on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Tari Road, Pukeatua, North Island.
10. West Coast Wildlife Centre
See New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, the rowi, in this kiwi hatchery and incubation centre in Franz Josef Glacier. The West Coast Wildlife Centre not only offers tours in their incubation centre (you might even see a hatching kiwi!), they also offer tours to see tuatara lizards and watch rowi kiwi in action in their artificial forest environment. Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for more details about the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
Location: Cowan Street, Franz Josef Glacier, South Island.