Coronavirus: Little Barrier Island's lockdown-flouting kiwi allowed to bend the rules

The kiwi came within centimetres of the rangers.
The kiwi came within centimetres of the rangers. Photo credit: Richard Walle and Leigh Joyce

Although for the most part New Zealanders' behaviour during the nationwide lockdown has been praised, it seems not all Kiwis have been complying with the strict rules.

One kiwi in particular was recently found to be flouting social distancing rules, though perhaps in this case an exception could be made.

The kiwi - of the bird, not the human, variety - was spotted bubble hopping on Te Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island. 

Richard Walle and his wife Dr Leigh Joyce, rangers on the island, said they were in their house when they heard a strange sound at their kitchen door. When they went to investigate they found the rare bird on their deck.

The bird found its way inside through an open ranchslider and began to have a poke around, according to the Department of Conservation.

Once inside, the flightless bird then broke the two-metre social distancing rules, coming within centimetres of the house's owners, the rangers said.

"The behaviour of the young kiwi suggests that it did not feel threatened by humans – we were just part of the scenery – no different from any other species on the island," Dr Joyce said.

According to Dr Joyce, it's encounters like these that show the importance of nature reserves such as that of Little Barrier Island.

"The role of the rangers on Hauturu is to support the strong ecosystems in place, as opposed to our newer predator-free islands where more active management is undertaken," she said.

Although many island in the Hauraki Gulf might seem far enough away from the mainland to be in their own bubble, residents on some of them, such as Great Barrier Island, have reported an influx of boaties arriving from the mainland in recent weeks.

That's despite the Government clearly saying recreational activities such as boating are prohibited during lockdown - even if carried out with members of your own bubble.

Locals on Great Barrier Island say boaties threaten not only to bring over COVID-19 from the mainland but are also putting pressure on the island's already scarce resources.