Where to camp to see wild kiwi this summer

Ever seen a kiwi in the wild? Me neither and sadly, this is something most of us will never experience. 

The Department Of Conservation estimates that there are only 68,000 kiwis left in the wild with our unmanaged population declining by about 2 percent every year.

Auckland Zoo is part of a nation-wide programme called Operation Nest Egg (ONE) established to assist with kiwi breeding by collecting eggs from the wild before incubating, hatching and raising the kiwi chicks.

Once they are big enough to fend for themselves, they are released into the wild.

Natalie Clark, a bird keeper at Auckland Zoo, is one of the dedicated team tasked with looking after hatchling kiwi chicks.

"The introduced stoat is the main predator for a kiwi this size," she says while cradling a small, dark brown ball of wispy feathers with beady black eyes and a thin white beak.

Once kiwi reach about a kilogram in weight, their biggest predation threat is domestic dogs, especially in the bush, up around Northland.

"It's really important that you keep your dog on a lead when you're out and follow any rules around dog access to beaches and regional parks. Those rules are in place for specific reasons," she says. 

"Quite often what will happen is you'll get a dog that will go loose in the bush up in Northland and then all of a sudden they'll have a real speight of Kiwi deaths."

Teaching dog owners to be responsible, coupled with the goal of a predator free New Zealand by 2050 would significantly help to slow the decline in our wild kiwi population, and even help it to flourish. 

Watch the video to get Natalie's recommendations on where to camp to see a Kiwi in the wild and for her tips on how to spot them.