We thought our only opportunity to see kiwis up close was to go to Otorohanga Kiwi House, so after we landed in Auckland, we got a car and drove to Otorohanga. This is a small sanctuary for New Zealand’s native birds and reptiles, some are rarely seen in the wild.
It was worth the visit. We saw kiwis, keas, kakas, kakariki, and tuatara. Keas and kakas are native parrots, and kakariki are native parakeets – who would have thought New Zealand had parrots and parakeets?! There was a New Zealand pigeon that liked to sit on Cameron’s head. My older daughter kept wanting to go back to have the pigeon sit on her arm. It was very friendly.
If you have visited a kiwi house before, you know they are dark since kiwis are nocturnal. We attended a keeper talk, and she put out a bowl of food that the kiwi then approached. They are challenging to photograph in such low light, but you can see one in this photo. They are all behind glass, so you can’t hear them. We ended up seeing kiwis at another sanctuary just outside of Christchurch. A portion of their enclosure was open so that we could hear the kiwis moving around. It was so much easier to see them that way.
If you are near Waitomo to see the glowworm caves, you are not far from Otorohanga. We made it a quick visit, and it’s worth an hour or two of your time to see these amazing birds.