Not only are our fellow New Zealanders known as Kiwis but their native bird goes by that name also.

Not only are our fellow New Zealanders known as kiwis but their native bird goes by that name also. It is a flightless bird, a national icon of New Zealand and an endangered bird that is found mostly in the native forests but can also be found in grasslands.

Very few people have ever seen this bird out in the wild because it spends its days tucked away and comes out at night. The only places that you are most likely to see one during the day is at places like zoos or other sanctuaries, but even then they will hide away from predators, including humans, to keep safe.

There are five different types of kiwi birds.

The North Island Brown Kiwi

The North Island Brown is the most common of the birds and there are only around 35,000 of this kind left. Their feathers are spiky and streaky red-brown in color.

The females weigh on average 2.8kg and the males are slightly lighter and weigh 2.2kg. They are about 40cm in height. The female will normally lay two eggs and the male will incubate them.

Little Spotted Kiwi

Little Spotted bird is very small. It is extinct on the mainland and only around 1350 of them still remains on the Kapiti Island. It has been introduced to other islands that have no predators like pigs, cats and stoats. It is a very docile bird that weighs 1.3kg and is about 25cm in height. This bird only lays one egg that the male will incubate.

Great Spotted Kiwi

Great Spotted bird is the largest of all species. They are found in mountainous parts of the Southern Alps, North West Coast and Northwest Nelson. The female weighs around 3.3kg and the male only 2.4kg. They are about 45cm in height. The female lays one egg and both male and female will incubate it. Their feathers are a grey-brown in color that has lighter bands.

Okarito Brown Kiwi

Okarito Brown - also known as the Rowi, is the most recently identified species. They can be found in a small area on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is smaller than the others and has a grayish tinge to its feathers and sometimes has white facial feathers. These females can lay up to three eggs in a season, with one egg in a different nest. The male and the female will both incubate the eggs.


Tokoeka is quite a common kiwi that is from the south and west parts of the South Island. It is about the same size as the Great Spotted bird but looks the same as the Brown, although its feathers have a lighter color.

There are three subspecies to the Tokoeka, the first one is the Northern Flordland Tokoeka and the Southern Flordland Tokoeka, and they live in remote parts of the South Island. They are quite common and are about 40cm in height.

The Stewart Island Tokoeka is the next subspecies and is from Stewart Island. Then there is the Haast Tokoeka. These kiwis are the rarest of all and there are only around 300 of them left. They can only be found in the South Island’s Haast Range in a restricted area that is at an altitude of 1,500m. This bird’s bill is strongly down curved and its feathers are more refocused.

This is the only bird that has nostrils at the end of their bill and have an exceptional sense of smell; they also have whiskers for feeling in the dark. Back when there were no predators, there was no need to fly so they have very small wings, but their legs are really powerful, which is perfect for running.

They eat different worms, seeds and small invertebrates. They will sometimes even eat eels, small crayfish and amphibians as well as fruit. Using their long beaks and their nostrils, they can easily find worms underground without seeing them.

Mating season is from March until June, which in New Zealand is late winter through to summer. After their initial meeting they will then meet in their nesting burrow once every few days so that they can call to one another during the night.

As kiwis can live up to 40 years, the relationship between two birds has been known to last up to half their lives.

Their eggs are smooth and are either a greenish-white or an ivory color. Even though a kiwi is only about the size of a chicken, they are able to lay eggs that are around six times the size of any chicken egg. The egg normally weighs around 25 percent of the mother’s weight and once it is laid, the male will take over to incubate the egg and look after the nest. The incubation period will take on average eleven weeks, when the female will then return to lay another.

Once the chick hatches, it already has its adult feathers. It is not fed by either parent but rather on the yolk in its belly. It will stay in the nest for around a week to ten days to build its strength, and then it will leave with the male in search for food.

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