Iwi the Kiwi: Ransom paid for stolen giant kiwi hot air balloon

Iwi the Kiwi, the giant kiwi-shaped hot air balloon, has been ransomed after being stolen.

The iconic seven-storey balloon went missing four months ago while in transit from the United Kingdom to Taiwan, sparking an international kiwi-hunt for the massive bird.

"Who in their right mind thinks they are going to inflate Iwi with nobody noticing this international super star," a friend of the giant bird wrote in an appeal for its safe return.

But after gaining worldwide attention it appears Iwi has reappeared - in the US.

"I have strong information that Iwi the Kiwi has been found in the USA, we are excited and waiting on further information and proof," its owner Rick Walczak says on Facebook.

"For the past four months we have exhausted all our efforts in trying to locate him, we are currently in negotiations to get him back safely."

Stuff reports an "undisclosed sum" was paid to secure Iwi's safe release.

"Payment has been made. For me, it was a lot of money. It was actually paid for by a fellow balloonist which we will be reimbursing," Mr Walczak said.

He hopes Iwi will now be able to return to New Zealand for ballooning festivals next year.