Fast facts

How long have kiwi been around?

Kiwi are a far older species than humans- they have been around for about 70 million years.

¨What do kiwi eat?

Worms, spiders, beetle larvae, freshwater crayfish, fallen fruits, cicada nymphs. Kiwi feed by walking along, tapping the ground and sniffing loudly.  When a kiwi smells food it probes into the soil, leaf litter, log or water to capture its prey.

How long do kiwi live?

The oldest bird recorded in the wild is over 22 years old, but some probably live for between 30-40 years.

Kiwi breeding…

The female usually lays two eggs, twice a year.  The first clutch is laid in June/July, the second clutch is laid in October/November. Once the female has laid the eggs, the male comes to the nest and sits on the eggs for about 75-85 days.  With most kiwi varieties, the male is the only one who sits on the eggs. The chick hatches fully feathered, and remains in the nest for about a week (feeding off its yolk sack) before venturing out.  It can feed itself as soon as it leaves the nest.  The chick will usually hang around in its parents’ territory for 2-5 weeks, but sometimes remains for a year or so.

How long do kiwi stay together?

Kiwi mate for life, this can often mean more than 30 years together.  They first breed at 2-4 years.  A kiwi pair defends a territory from other kiwi.

How big do kiwis grow?

The kiwi in the Ruapehu region are about 50cm long. The male is smaller than the female, being about 2.2kg, and the female being about 3.0kg.  Females also have longer bills than the males.

Other kiwi facts…

  • Kiwi spend the day in burrows- most often a natural cavity in the ground or in a log, however they also can spend the day under clumps of ferns or toitoi.
  • Kiwi are accepted as being intelligent birds, they learn quickly and alter their behaviour in the light of experience.
  • They are the only bird with nostrils at the end of their bill. 
  • They have excellent hearing and an incredible sense of smell.  Their eyesight is poor, but they use their long catlike whiskers to feel their way around at night.
  • Kiwi have the biggest egg to body size ratio of any bird in the world.  In human terms, it is comparable to a 50kg woman giving birth to a 10kg baby. The egg is about 2/3 the size of the females body!

A kiwi egg is around 2/3 the size of the females body.