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The Stewart Island Wild Kiwi Encounter offers a rare chance to see New Zealand’s iconic kiwi in the wild. The kiwi is a shy and nocturnal endangered bird, so it is almost never seen in the wild.
However, there are a few places – like the wildlife sanctuaries around Stewart Island – where kiwis are still flourishing in the wild and can be spotted at night.
Your New Zealand holiday will not be complete without this iconic experience!
At dusk, depart Halfmoon Bay in a catamaran for a cruise across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove. During the cruise, pass Ulva Island (a predator-free sanctuary) and learn about Stewart Island’s rich history. Once at Little Glory Cove, disembark onto a wharf at the southern part of the peninsula known as The Neck.
The walk, led by your nature guide, is on a well-formed track across the peninsula, through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach.
As dusk sets in and daylight diminishes, venture by torchlight through the native forest with the stars and forest night sounds around you. The walk will take about 45 minutes one-way and the track emerges on to Ocean Beach. This wide sandy beach is where kiwi are often found feeding among the grasses and seaweed.
Here in the darkness you will get to see the Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) – often searching for food.
Afterwards, retrace your steps through the forest to Little Glory Wharf for your catamaran ride back to Oban.
The Rakiura Tokoeka is found on Stewart Island. They stand approximately 40cm tall, weigh 4kg and their beak is 18-20cm long. Stewart Island tokoeka are stocky round birds and one of the largest variants of the Southern brown kiwi, with females reaching weights of over 4kg.
The kiwi relies on a highly developed sense of smell and touch, rather than sight. They have whiskers on their face and around the base of its beak. The kiwi is the only bird in the world with external nostrils at the tip of its beak. Kiwi tap the ground with their beak, probing the soil to find worms or other invertebrates under the surface. They build burrows like a badger, and sleep standing up.
Kiwi are omnivores. Their stomachs contain grit and small stones, to help in the digestion process. Most of their food is invertebrates and especially native worms. The Rakiura Tokoeka are closely related to Fiordland Tokoeka, however genetic research has suggested that these Stewart Island birds are genetically different – enough to consider them as a separate species.
Kiwi face threats from three directions: predators, loss of habitat and people. The main predators are stoats, cats and dogs – which take a heavy toll on young birds during their first three months of life. Even rats have a major impact on food supply by removing the forage layer of invertebrates.
Departs from Stewart Island Experience, Main Wharf, Oban
You can book Stewart Island activities separately or as part of one of our New Zealand holiday packages. We bundle activities, accommodation, and transportation together for convenient, affordable New Zealand holidays.
Popular New Zealand holiday packages with a stay on Stewart Island include:
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to plan your Stewart Island activities.
* All pricing is in New Zealand Dollars
* Minmum age 15 years
* Select item(s) above and submit with your other New Zealand accommodation, activity and transport needs. A travel consultant will contact you in less than 12 hours with availability and best available price. Upon your approval and payment you will then receive confirmation.
Fill in this quick form to receive your FREE personal holiday quote from us...• Stewart Island Wild Kiwi Encounter Adult NZ$199
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