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Rowi Kiwi (Apteryx rowi ) is a endemic, nationally vulnerable member of the kiwi family (Apterygidae). They are the rarest of the five species of kiwi. They are also known as the Okarito kiwi or Okarito brown kiwi as there is now only one natural population in Okarito forest on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

As part of Operation Nest Egg (ONE). Rowi Kiwi are translocated to two predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds where they grow safely away from predators. Once they can look after themselves, they are returned to the Okarito forest to add to the breading numbers.

The Rowi Kiwi are flightless, with tiny vestigial wings and no tail. They are nocturnal, therefore more often heard than seen. The males gives a repeated high-pitched ascending whistle, while the females give a deeper throaty cry. Predominantly pale greyish brown, streaked lengthways with brown and black; many birds have occasional white facial feathers. Their feather tips feel soft, they have a long and pale bill, short pale legs, toes and claws.

The adult birds are about 40cm long and the average weight of a male Rowi Kiwi is 1.6 to 2.4 kg and 2 to 2.5 kg for females.

Kiwi eggs are massive in comparison to the bird’s size, weighing around 400 g each – around 20% of the female’s bodyweight!

Incubation is shared between the parents, with males doing about 60% of the egg sitting.

All kiwi chicks are self-sufficient as soon as they hatch. Rowi Kiwi juveniles often stay with their family group for 4–5 years, sharing their burrow and helping to raise younger siblings. This is different to brown kiwi, where the chicks are completely independent from at least two months of age.

Rowi Kiwis are slow breeders, normally laying just one egg per year but can have two clutches in one breeding season if the first fails or up to three clutches a season if the eggs are removed as part of Operation Nest Egg.

How you can help kiwi

  • Dogs are strictly prohibited in kiwi sanctuaries. Make sure you know where your dog is at all times.
  • Report any dogs seen in kiwi sanctuaries to DOC.
  • Do not release unwanted cats or ferrets into the wild. They will kill kiwi and other birds.
  • Keep your speed down. Watch out for birds on roads when travelling near a kiwi sanctuary after dark.
When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Check for pests when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach.
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don’t drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
When out with your dog
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • If you come across wildlife put your dog on a lead and lead it away.
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set predator traps on your property.
  • Keep your cat in at night.
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.

Get involved!

The animals and plants of Tōtaranui need your help now!