Great Spotted Kiwi (GSK) is the largest of the kiwi species (growing to about 45cm in height) and the only kiwi found in Canterbury. With an estimated population of 14,000, its future is far from secure with an estimated decline rate of 2%p.a.
Before European settlers arrived, there were about 12 million GSK. The introduction of predators such as rats, ferrets, stoats, possums, pigs, cats, dogs and hedgehogs, along with habitat degradation, has dramatically reduced the population.
In 2007 the first three GSK eggs and one wild chick were brought to the Trust’s kiwi breeding facility in Christchurch as part of the Operation Nest Egg programme.
Since 2007 to 2019 a total of 94 eggs/chicks have been managed at our kiwi breeding facility.
Over the years eggs and chicks have been retrieved from the Hawdon Valley, Paparoa Ranges and the Stockton Plateau. Due to a change in management of this species eggs are now only retrieved from the Paparoa Ranges.
Once the young chicks are eating well and have reached hatch weight, or over, they are released into the ‘Bois Gentil’ inland creche site in the Paparoa Ranges, where they are managed by the Paparoa Wildlife Trust.
After a period of approximately one year at the creche site, the young chicks are big enough to protect themselves from the majority of predators and are released back into the wild. Although the release sites varied between the Paparoa’s, Nelson Lakes, Hawdon Valley and the Nina Valley, the juvenile chicks are now only released back to the Paparoa Ranges.
Historically the Nina Valley was home to a population of GSK. However, on investigation, it was discovered that there no longer were any kiwi in this region. An extensive trapping programme began in 2008, monitored by the students of Hurunui College. Young adult kiwi from the programme have now been released back into the Nina Valley, with plans for a wild to wild translocation of GSK to increase the genetic diversity of this new population.
The Trust is mindful that the Great Spotted Kiwi population is vulnerable and continues with its efforts to prevent the further decline of this population. We work closely with the Paparoa Wildlife Trust who retrieve eggs from the wild and bring them to our facility to be incubated in a managed situation.