North Island brown kiwi (western taxon)

Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari: Helping kiwi thrive since 2005.

English name: North Island brown kiwi (western taxon)
Māori name: kiwi-nui
Scientific name: Apteryx mantelli
New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation Status: Not threatened
Kaitiaki: Our founding population comes from a variety of sources including Tongaririo, Waimarino and Taranaki as well as from hatcheries: National Kiwi Hatchery Rotorua, Otorohanga Kiwi House, The Gallagher Kiwi Burrow Taupō, and Mount Bruce.
Threats: Habitat loss and mammalian predation, including dogs, ferrets and stoats. 50-60% of chicks survive in areas where predators are being controlled. 95% of kiwi die before reaching breeding age in areas that are not being managed.
Lifespan: 20-40 years
Did you know? Females are bigger than males, reaching up to 2.7kg. A kiwi egg is huge in proportion to its body, making up between 15 and 20% of a female’s weight.

Described as an ‘honorary’ mammal – nostrils on the end of the beak (can smell food 50mm below ground), sensory organ on the tip of the bill for detecting prey, bones filled with marrow (unusual for a bird), hair-like feathers, body temp of 38oC (2oC below most birds and closer to mammal range), lower metabolism than most birds, two functioning ovaries).

Female kiwi handled by a trained kiwi expert
Kiwi at Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari
Kiwi are nocturnal, coming out at night to forage for invertebrates, so you’re unlikely to see them in the Southern Enclosure during the day. There is a chance you might hear kiwi if you head out on one of our night tours. Listen for the male’s higher pitched, repeating whistles and the female’s lower cry. Winter and Spring are the season’s where you’re more likely to hear them.
Kiwi were first reintroduced to Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari in 2005, gifted from Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro. Four one-month old chicks, two males and two females were reintroduced. These birds were the first kiwi to live within the ancient forest on Maungatautari in over 100 years. Since then, a further 70+ kiwi were reintroduced to Maungatautari through the Maungatautari Restoration Plan, gifted from a number of generous iwi from across the North Island and from DOC and other conservation partners. 
In 2017, Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari became a kōhanga kiwi site in partnership with Save the Kiwi. As a kōhanga site, the fenced sanctuary enables young kiwi to be protected from predation by introduced predators, particularly while they are young and more vulnerable to predation from introduced animals like stoats. 333 chicks were released onto Maungatautari through the kōhanga kiwi programme with Save the Kiwi. Maungatautari has become a stronghold for North Island brown kiwi of the western taxon (population) with the population on the maunga now estimated to be around 2, 500 birds, Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari is a source site for wild kiwi populations. 
This is a partnership between Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Ngāti Hauā, Raukawa, and Waikato, Save the Kiwi, and Pukeatua School.  
Over 217 kiwi were translocated to Taranaki Mounga, Tongariro and Wellington (The Capital Kiwi Project) during the March to May, 2024.
Without the efforts of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari staff, volunteers, local iwi, landowners, partners, and supporters over the last almost 20 years to keep the sanctuary pest-free, the growth of the kiwi population on the maunga and transfer of kiwi simply wouldn’t be possible. 


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