Frisky kākāpō Sirocco's makes first appearance in years

The world's most famous kākāpō has come out of hiding, making his first public appearance in four years.

Twenty-one-year-old Sirocco went "off the grid" for a while on his remote Fiordland home.

Sirocco shot to international fame after an attempt at mating with zoologist Mark Carwardine during a documentary shoot with actor Stephen Fry.

Now many people have had the opportunity to come face-to-face with the cheeky star at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin, which is hosting Sirocco for the next 3 weeks.

"It's not until you get right up to one that you realise just how special and endearing and charismatic they are," Department of Conservation's (DoC's) Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki says.

His fans are more than happy to pay $50 for a VIP visit to see one of the few kākāpō left in the world. There are just 148 kākāpō left - most living on predator-free offshore islands.

Like many rockstars, Sirocco decided to take a break from the limelight. The cheeky bird went walkabout just before his 20th birthday, reappearing in February after a two-year absence.

"The official term is that he went 'off the grid'. And really just what happened was his transmitter failed, which meant that it was really difficult for us to find him," Ms Toki says.

Sirocco became used to people when he was hand-raised as a chick, after suffering a chest infection.

Because of that human imprinting, Sirocco prefers to hang out with humans rather than other kākāpō. 

Sirocco's actually infertile, but it's shaping up as a big breeding season for the rest of the kākāpō population, with their favourite rimu trees fruiting well.

"We probably expect most of the 57 adult females to breed this year," DoC's Kakapo Recovery Programme Daryl Eason says.

Proving a big step in the survival of this unique species.