Why do we incubate and hatch kiwi eggs?

The National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa incubates kiwi eggs and hatches kiwi chicks to save our national bird. Kiwi eggs get eaten by predators in the wild. Out of every 100 kiwi eggs laid in burrows in the forest, only five kiwi chicks will make it to adulthood. By hatching the kiwi eggs in safety at the National Kiwi Hatchery we have a 98% survival rate. The National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa plays a vital role in saving kiwi.

It is a hugely complicated process finding and transporting kiwi eggs, incubating and hatching the baby chicks, rearing and feeding them until the chicks are stoat proof and then releasing them back into the forest as strong healthy adult kiwi. This process takes us up to eight months at the Hatchery.

Hatching the kiwi eggs

The National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa works with conservation groups who find and collect kiwi eggs from 15 different forests and brings the eggs to our facility in Rotorua. Our team of experts incubate the eggs and we hatch kiwi chicks! We have hatched over 1800 kiwi eggs since we began (we’re pretty good at it now!).

We are the global experts in hatching kiwi chicks. We hatch 130 kiwi chicks each year - two-thirds of all chicks incubated and hatched in New Zealand. We see each chick as a taonga (treasure). Every chick we hatch is vitally important in the battle for the survival of the species.

Brooder boxes

When the kiwi chicks have hatched from their eggs, we transfer them from their incubators to brooder boxes. Brooder boxes are like creche’s for baby kiwi who get a nice safe, warm place to grow up without having to worry about stoats, ferrets and other predators. Brooder boxes are nice and dark like a kiwi burrow and filled with moss and fern leaves so that baby kiwi feel like they are on the forest floor. Brooder boxes are the safe homes that baby chicks live in until we can move them to our outdoor enclosures to grow into adult kiwi ready for release back into their home forest.  

 

Stoat proof!

Adult kiwi are strong and can defend themselves against most predators. The worst predator for kiwi chicks is stoats. When a kiwi chick has grown to 1kg in weight we know they can fight off a stoat so we call them ‘stoat proof’. It takes about five months of feeding to grow a kiwi chick to the ‘stoat proof’ weight of 1kg. Once a kiwi chick has grown to the magic 1kg weight, we transport the kiwi back to their home forest where they are released back into the wild - a healthy adult kiwi to help save the species!

"They say it takes a village to raise a child - well it's the same for kiwi. There's an awful lot of hard work and love that goes into saving kiwi. It's a huge project but amazing to be part of.”

Emma Bean
Kiwi Husbandry Manager / Tumu Kaitiaki Kiwi - National Kiwi Hatchery

Kiwi Intensive Care Unit

Kiwi sometimes get badly injured. Dogs, cats, ferrets, weasels, possum traps, cars - all of these can be dangerous for adult kiwi. The National Kiwi Hatchery has an intensive care unit where injured kiwi receive expert care and where kiwi can stay long term to heal and recuperate. The Hatchery has professional husbandry staff for kiwi care and we call on expert veterinary assistance for any injuries involving surgery.

The National Kiwi Hatchery is working hard to save our national bird.

Help us hatch more kiwi.

All donations are in New Zealand dollars