An exciting project enhancing the kiwi population at Lake Rotoiti

Photo- Tracey Grose

Photo- Tracey Grose

The future of great spotted kiwi (GSK) at Lake Rotoiti has been greatly enhanced by the launching of a Friends of Rotoiti (FOR) project. Kiwi calls are only occasionally heard  in the Park and we hope to increase this unique experience.

FOR has been granted $55,000 from the Department of Conservation (DOC) Community Fund towards a 3 year project, in partnership with DOC, to enhance the existing GSK population.

16 GSK scourced from the Goulan Downs in Kahurangi National Park were introduced by DOC to the Mainland Island via 2 translocations in 2004 and 2006. Breeding activity was not as high as expected so 13 additional birds from Operation Nest Egg (ONE) have been added over the last 5 years with limited success.

Currently there are about 30 GSK in the Mainland Island and the project aims to increase the genetic biodiversity making the founder population more sustainable. It has been determined that at least 40 individuals are necessary for a viable founding population. This genetic diversity increase will be achieved by locating, capturing and introducing a further 20 birds.

FOR has been working in partnership with DOC for 16 years and has developed an excellent working relationship however we will need increased public support over the next 3 years to assist with this intensive work.

The initial stage of the project involves the training of FOR members in all aspects of kiwi location, capture, translocation and management. We are working towards developing a dedicated “hands on” group of kiwi enthusiasts to make this project successful. Persons wishing to join and/or support this group can contact FOR through the website

“What New Zealand conservationists have done is to demonstrate that you have to be active, you have to be imaginative, decisive – you have to do something”.

Sir David Attenborough

Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project opening, Lake Rotoiti, February 1997



An Exciting Day Out - Wayne Sowman 

Emma, Patrick and I went up the Lake to remove Puremahia’s transmitter on Thursday morning. (21.6.18) Puremahia is one of three adult Great Spotted Kiwi in the Park that carry transmitters.

Opposite Whiskey Falls, we picked up his transmitter signal, on the St Arnaud Range side, which is known as the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Area. From the boat, we plotted Puremahai’s position by triangulation.

 Once ashore, as we walked up hill, Emma and Patrick listened to the transmitter signal to find Puremahia’s exact location. We found his burrow under a dead beech tree. Very quietly Patrick and Emma surveyed the area for the entrance to the burrow, which Emma found. Emma had to crawl into the burrow up to her waist.

This is when the excitement started. Emma pulled out a kiwi and it was a female bird, who didn’t think this was fun. She was a bit feisty. As Emma held her, Patrick went back to the burrow and found another kiwi, a young female, which I held. Patrick went back to the burrow again and finally pulled out Puremahia. We had to place him in a catch bag, as we were running out of hands. Patrick then weighed them, measured their beaks and checked their condition.

When he had finished, he went back to the burrow and found a kiwi chick. It was Puremahia’s chick, which had hatched in November or December last year. Patrick was able to take photos of the chick before we placed all the kiwi back in the burrow, and we left very quietly.

It was a day I will never forget. We don't really know what is out there in the park. Two kea flying around above us during our kiwi catch made our day.

I must say Patrick and Emma are very professional in their approach and care of the Kiwi.

Patrick has looked back at the records and found that one of the kiwi, without a transmitter, is a female, named Awaroa, and the other could be an Operation Nest Egg bird named Turimawiwi 2012.

As Patrick put it, ”Talk about a cosy burrow!”


RNRP Great Spotted Kiwi Acoustic Monitoring


To read about the results from the March 2018 acoustic monitoring in the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Area click here