There are a number of sites with detailed information about the kiwi online - check out the links section for some of these. This page just gives a brief introduction and some of my favourite kiwi facts :)

  • There are 5 species of kiwi currently recognised in New Zealand: the Little Spotted Kiwi, the Great Spotted Kiwi, the Brown Kiwi, the Rowi and the Tokoeka. Sub-species of Brown Kiwi and Tokoeka have been identified. All are endangered, with the Little Spot being the rarest kiwi.
  • Kiwis do not fly, and have a number of characteristics that make them more like mammals than birds - it is thought that because of New Zealand's isolation and lack of mammals, they have evolved to fill the place taken by small mammals in other parts of the world. Their feathers hang loose, more like hair, and they have also developed whiskers on their forehead and at the base of their beak. Unlike other birds, their bones contain marrow, giving them powerful legs. Their body temperature is also much lower than most birds, and closer to that of a mammal.
  • Kiwis look cute, but they are extremely strong and very territorial. They can defend themselves, and use their strong legs and sharp claws to attack intruders.
  • A kiwi's sense of smell is particularly acute. They are the only birds in the world that have nostrils at the tip of their beak, and they can locate food by smell alone.
  • Kiwis build burrows in which to live. Some are simply constructed, but the Great Spotted Kiwi builds a labyrinth of tunnels, with several exits.
  • Kiwis tend to live in pairs, and often mate for life. Pairings have been known to last for more than 20 years.
  • Kiwi eggs are much larger than would normally be expected for a bird of their size. Their eggs are one of the largest in proportion to body weight of any bird in the world.
  • Kiwis can be long-lived - the oldest known kiwi in captivity survived to over 40.
  • In Maori tradition, kiwi are known as 'te manu huna a tane' - 'the bird that Tane hid'. Tane is the god who created the forests and the birds, and humans are also his children. According to tradition, the kiwi is his eldest child and under his special protection.
  • Kiwi were named by the Maori, the name probably coming from the sound of their whistling call.