The recent Department of Conservation kiwi call count was challenged by the weather – but we know there are plenty of kiwi out there.
One of the most magical experiences at The Landing is coming face-to-fluffy-brown-face with New Zealand’s rare and iconic kiwi. Shy and nocturnal, the five species of kiwi are classed as vulnerable, and even most New Zealanders have never seen one in the wild. But at The Landing, encountering a kiwi is almost an everyday experience.
That’s because The Landing might just have the most abundant population of Northland Brown Kiwi in the country. How do we know? Every year, the Department of Conservation holds a “kiwi call count”, where volunteers spend a couple of night hours listening for and counting kiwi calls. It’s one of the best ways to build a picture of the population density of a very elusive bird.
Last year, the kiwi call count indicated that The Landing’s kiwi population is a very healthy size. In two hours, more than 120 calls were recorded, suggesting one of the most concentrated kiwi populations in the country. This year, the call count was down somewhat, but The Landing’s Dane Hawker says this was likely due to the unfavourable weather on the night – cold, rainy and windy – which made it difficult to hear the calls.
“The data needs to be looked at over many years, not just as a snapshot each year,” he says. “We’ve had some spectacular kiwi experiences this year. This summer, there was an incredibly long dry period, which carried right on into winter. The kiwi were congregating around the wetland areas where they have easy access to water. With extensive walking tracks on both side of the Te Puna wetland, there are lots of options for walking with guests. In the early evenings, kiwi have been out and about in the open fields foraging for crickets and other bugs in the lawns. Quite often we will walk out to the village green area and come across two or three kiwi.”