Ah New Zealand, a land of rolling green hills, hobbit hideaways and spellbinding scenery. Aotearoa sure does have a lot to love, but just in case you’re still on the fence about a visit to the land of the long white cloud, just take a look at this guy…
This my friends, is a baby kiwi bird. Adorable huh? An undisputed icon of NZ and the country’s national bird, the little kiwi is in fact endangered due to its lack of flying ability (making it an easy target for stoats, dogs and other land based predators), which makes the work carried out at The National Kiwi Hatchery all the more important. But before we dive into all the reasons why the Rotorua based facility absolutely rocks, lets just take a moment to appreciate why the kiwi bird is a pretty cool species…
Kiwi mum’s are boss women
Female kiwis lay one of the largest eggs in relation to their body size of any bird in the world. As humans, a growing baby will take up around 5% of its mother’s body. In comparison, a kiwi egg takes up around 20% of the female’s body and weighs in at around 16oz. That’s basically the equivalent of lugging a toddler in your belly. Yeah, not comfortable.
They’re seriously committed to their relationships
Looking for tips on how to take your relationship to the next level? Take a lesson from a kiwi couple. These guys are all about going steady, living monogamously as a couple for up to 20 years. Boys, take note.
They have a mean sense of smell
The long beak is one of the defining features of the kiwi, but it’s not just for show. Incredibly, these little birds have nostrils at the end of their beaks (the only bird in the world to do so) which means their sense of smell is seriously on point. Alongside this, they also have sensory pits which allow them to sniff out prey under the ground.
You wouldn’t mess with them
They may look cute, but get on the wrong side of a kiwi and you’ll be in for a serious scratching. Super territorial, these guys aren’t afraid to show you who’s boss if you stray too far into their territory or pose a threat to their young.
Convinced that the kiwi is basically one of the most badass birds alive? Then you’ll definitely agree that these little guys are very much in need of protection, which is where the National Kiwi Hatchery comes in. Established in 2008, the hatchery has grown to become the most successful kiwi hatching facility in the world, with over 1850 eggs hatched at the facility over the years. The centre is absolutely vital for the survival of the species, with kiwi eggs hatched in the safety of the facility seeing a 95% survival rate (in comparison, only 5 in every 100 eggs hatched in the wild will make it through to adulthood).
Conservation groups collect eggs from 15 different forests all across New Zealand and take them back to the safety of the Rotorua Hatchery, where they are then incubated, hatched and reared until they are ready to be safely released back into the wild. And these guys don’t just specialise in hatching kiwi’s, they also fix them too, in the safety of their intensive care unit. It’s a hard life out there for an adult kiwi, what with dogs, stoats, possums, traps and cars all causing possible threats, so the impeccably trained team at the centre also provide veterinary care for injured or sick kiwi birds.
Feeling inspired and want to see first hand the incredible work carried out by the staff at the centre (not to mention spot a cute little kiwi bird or two)? We can definitely make that happen. Contiki have been visiting the Hatchery for years as an included visit, with all proceeds going straight back to the centre. Hell, we even love the little birds so much that in 2017 and together with TreadRight, Contiki Cares sponsored an incubation chamber to help even more kiwi eggs safely make it through to the hatching stage and beyond.
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to NZ with Contiki and do your part to help protect these little superheroes from extinction because let’s face it, how can you not an adore a creature that looks like this…