Plenty of tourists head to New Zealand every year, but not many of them get to see the famous Kiwi.
If you are expecting to see these fuzzy little birds running around on the roadside, then you may be in for a disappointment – they are an endangered species, and as such, are protected in zoos and specialised sanctuaries around the country.
Kiwis are nocturnal creatures, so their enclosures are dark areas where you will have to be quiet and look hard to see one. Usually you will be behind a pane of glass, looking in on an enclosure as the birds calmly wander about searching for food. Unfortunately, picking up or touching a Kiwi is not an option.
So where can you see one?
There are zoos with Kiwis in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and of course if you visit one of these facilities you’ll be able to visit plenty of other animals besides.
Other places where you can visit these critters are located around the country too however, and some even specialise in Kiwis so you will be able to get the full experience, learning about their history, dietary habits, anatomy, and everything else you could ever possibly want to know about the flightless birds.
Kiwi North in Whangarei is one such place, as is the Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs or Te Puia in Rotorua, the Kiwi House and Native Bird Park in Otorohanga, the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, Nga Manu Trust in Waikane or the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the Wairarapa.
In the South Island, Christchurch offers the Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi House and the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, while Queenstown has the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Hokitika is home to the National Kiwi Centre, and you’ll also find Kiwis in the Westcoast Wildlife Centre in Franz Joseph.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to visit a Kiwi (the bird, not the fruit) with your New Zealand car hire!