Snow storm threatens kiwi conservation project

  • 15/08/2016
Road sign with skiing Kiwi on it, Mt Ngaruhoe on the background, Ruapehu region, New Zealand

Conservationists are worried heavy snow falls in the central North Island will affect efforts to preserve kiwi.

Eggs were taken out of the Maungataniwha Native Forest on Saturday by helicopter because roads were still affected by the snow that blanketed the area a week ago.

Staff at the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project say they're experiencing difficulty accessing some of the nests they're scheduled to retrieve eggs from, and the eggs may hatch before they can be collected.

"The frozen ground and wintry conditions in the forest will make it more difficult than usual for the younger birds to forage successfully, particularly the ones that have come from our coastal creche and have only recently been released into this high altitude forest," says Simon Hall, chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust which runs the project.

"They are not used to these conditions and don’t have as many reserves as some of the older birds, which can lose 10 percent of their body weight before they risk damaging their vital organs."

Buildings used by the conservation project have also been damaged in the snow storm.

Mr Hall says his team will "learn a lot" about how Kiwis cope with harsh conditions.