DoC releases 30 spotted kiwi into conservation areas

The Department of Conservation has released its biggest ever group of little spotted kiwis into conservation areas across the North Island.

The 30 birds have been released into the wild for the first time to help the endangered species increase in population and improve genetic diversity.

DoC estimates there are only 68,000 kiwi left in all of New Zealand and 20 unmanaged kiwi are dying every week.

As part of the relocation, ten females will be placed on Red Mercury Island to increase the population and genetic diversity.

Another 10 males and 10 females are heading for Cape Sanctuary in Hawke's Bay, where Manager Tasmin Ward-Smith said it will help the sanctuary become self-sustaining.

"With a transmitter we can track everywhere that this kiwi will go. We will probably just put it on for the six months just so we know that they will settle down and they're fine," she said.

The birds were flown from Kapiti Island to their new home through the DoC and Air New Zealand partnership.

"It is just such an incredible opportunity to move this many birds at one time. That doesn't happen very often and we're just really proud to support those services for DOC as part of their natural wildlife breeding programme," said Air New Zealand's Meghan Blair.