DOC's overarching goal is to restore and, wherever possible, enhance the abundance, distribution and genetic diversity of all kiwi species.
The strategy for achieving this is four-fold:
- to undertake predator control in kiwi habitat;
- to continue using tools such as Operation Nest EggTM to raise chicks in captivity and release them into the wild when they are able to defend themselves from stoats and cats;
- ongoing research into genetics, breeding, habitat requirements, monitoring techniques and landscape-scale pest control methods;
- increase and sustain the help from the community and businesses, especially in areas where kiwi are found on private and production land.
Goals section of the Kiwi (Apteryx spp.) recovery plan 2008-2018 (PDF, 686K)
Measuring the bill of a Haast tokoeka chick at Haast Tokoeka Sanctuary
In 2000, DOC set up five kiwi sanctuaries aiming to increase the number of young kiwi surviving each year via predator control and to provide opportunities for research and monitoring.
There are three kiwi sanctuaries in the North Island and two in the South Island:
- Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary (Northland brown kiwi)
- Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary on the Coromandel Peninsula (Coromandel brown kiwi)
- Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary near Taupo (western brown kiwi)
- Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary (rowi)
- Haast Tokoeka Kiwi Sanctuary (Haast tokoeka)
Successes of this management approach are being realised – for example at Whangarei, 50-60% of chicks survive their first six months compared with 11% outside of the sanctuary. At Moehau the kiwi population has doubled over ten years because of intensive management.
Operation Nest Egg, Rowi kiwi chick
Operation Nest Egg
Under Operation Nest Egg, kiwi eggs or chicks are taken from the wild, hatched in captivity, and raised at "crèche sites" until the juveniles reach one kilogram – the weight at which they are likely to be able to defend themselves from stoats, and when they can be returned to the wild. Several zoos and captivity institutions are part of the programme.
An Operation Nest Egg bird has a 65% chance of surviving to adulthood – compared to just 10% for wild-hatched and raised chicks. The tool is used on all kiwi species except little spotted kiwi.
More on Operation Nest Egg
Often the only time New Zealanders and tourists get to see a kiwi is by viewing one in a nocturnal house at a captive facility. Across the country there are currently 15 captive facilities participating in the New Zealand captive management programme; holding around 100 brown kiwi. Captive management of kiwi in New Zealand is a cooperative effort between DOC and the captivity community.
Captive brown kiwi are important ambassadors for their species as they help to raise awareness about issues facing kiwi in the wild. The captive population is managed sustainably so that it may also provide kiwi to supplement wild populations as required. It also has a role in supporting some aspects of kiwi research. These include trialling radio-transmitters on captive birds, and utilising management techniques that increase our scientific knowledge of this intriguing bird.
Where to see kiwi