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Rowi Kiwi

Apteryx rowi

The Rowi Kiwi is also known as the

Okarito kiwi as it is found in an area called the Ōkarito forest in the West Coast of the South Island. The Rowi Kiwi is a relation of the well known Brown Kiwi. There are not many Rowi Kiwi in Aotearoa - only about 600 birds!

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Rowi are the rarest of the five species of kiwi. Through predation and habitat loss, these remarkable birds have been reduced to just one natural population at Ōkarito.

Unlike some other kiwi species, both male and female Rowi take turns incubating their eggs.

Rowi Kiwi



Image Credit - Department of Conservation


Throughout this page you'll find some fun activities and resources you can explore

at home with your whānau and friends.

Some of these resources have been put together with the help of our fantastic local organisations.

A huge thank you to those people who have helped put these together for us,

we appreciate your support!

Don't forget to share your activities with us, either tag us on social media

or email them to us at


Kiwi are considered to be a taonga | sacred treasure to Māori, who knew it as ‘te manu huna a Tāne’, the hidden bird of Tāne, god of the forest.

Kahu kiwi | Kiwi feather cloaks were made by sewing kiwi skins together, these were taonga reserved for chiefs. This indicates the mana (the status, prestige and importance of an individual) of the person within their family, and the respect and importance Māori place on kiwi. Kiwi feathers, now woven into flax cloaks, are still valued. Māori also ate kiwi, preserving them in the birds’ fat, and steaming them in a hāngī | earth oven.

Rowi Kiwi

Te Ao




 Art - Colour a Kiwi

Colour your Kiwi

Did you know Rowi have grey-coloured feathers? Rowi also have unique white patches around their the head, giving each Rowi it’s own ‘face’ — no other kiwi species has this! Have a go at colouring in your own Rowi kiwi with its distinct colours and markings. 

Don't forget to share your finished creation with us, email us an image -


A juvenile Rowi Kiwi - check out its white markings! Photo credit - The Department of Conservation.

Rowi Kiwi


Rowi lay their one egg from July to January. Their nest is in a burrow, hollow base of a tree, or in a hollow log. The size of the egg in comparison to the mother kiwi is huge! Check out the x-ray image of the kiwi showing the egg inside the mother in our craft activity below. Rowi eggs are incubated under Operation Nest Egg. When the baby kiwi hatches, it is released into a creche environment to grow strong enough to fight off predators. Then the adult kiwi is released back to the adult population at Ōkarito, where it can mate and produce more eggs.


Rowi | Okarito brown kiwi. Juvenile in a burrow. Motuara Island, February 2013. Image © Julie Alach by Julie Alach

CRAFT - Rowi Kiwi Life Cycle Wheel

Rowi Kiwi Spinning Life Cycle Wheel

Have some fun making this Rowi Kiwi life cycle spinning wheel. Test your knowledge by cutting and pasting the life cycle images in the right order, get creative colouring in the cover and get crafty putting it all together!

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Click the image to download the PDF sheet!

Image Credit - Department of Conservation

During the day Rowi rest in a burrow, hollow tree or log, or under thick vegetation and emerge shortly after nightfall. Rowi live in a native lowland forest at Ōkārito. Juvenile Rowi live on Mana, Motuara and Blumine Islands, in the Cook Strait region. Before human settlement of New Zealand Rowi were widespread throughout the northern South Island and into the southern North Island, as far north as Lake Poukawa (Hawkes Bay).

Rowi Kiwi


Rowi Kiwi

Ecology & Diet

Rowi are flightless and nocturnal - this means they sleep during the day and are active at night. They feed by walking slowly along tapping the ground and when prey is detected they probe their bill into the leaf litter or a rotten log. Rowi eat mostly small invertebrates, especially earthworms and larvae of beetles, cicadas and moths; they also eat centipedes, spiders, crickets, weta and freshwater crayfish. Some fallen fruit and leaves are eaten.


ACTIVITY - Beak Test Game

Beak Test Game 


Our native birds have lots of different beak shapes, and the Rowi Kiwi has an impressively long beak! Do you think this makes hunting for food easier for them or more difficult? Have a go at tapping the ground and picking up items with a long kiwi beak.


If you give this game a go with your class or some friends, we would love to hear all about it!

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Click the image to download a PDF version of this activity

Image credit: Save the kiwi

Did you know that the Rowi Kiwi - like other Kiwis, has nostrils at the end of its beak! A Rowi Kiwi beak does more than just smell though, it is so sensitive it can pick up little vibrations in the dirt from insects moving around. How impressive!

Rowi Kiwi

Crazy Facts!

Other Rowi Kiwi Resources 

Below you will find links to other Rowi Kiwi resources, click the images to take you to the websites. Check them out!

Meet the locals video

Watch this video to see a real life Rowi Kiwi.

How the Kiwi lost his wings

Read this Māori purakau | legend about how the kiwi lost his wings and became our most treasured bird.

Save the Kiwi

This website not only has interesting articles about Rowi, it has heaps of cool facts and information about Kiwis in general. Check it out!

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Rowi Kiwi


So, what are the biggest threats to the Rowi Kiwi? 

Currently the biggest threat to Rowi survival is stoats. Stoats can attack kiwi that are four to five times heavier than themselves. Also dogs are a threat to Rowi survival. Dogs find the distinctive smell of kiwi irresistible and easy to track. Keep dogs and cats away from kiwi zones. Possums also kill kiwi, destroy eggs and compete with kiwi for burrows.

So, what can we do to help?

Follow below to find out!!


Image Credit - Department of Conservation

DOC  - Toyota Kiwi Guardian Activity

Find out what predators may be lurking in your back yard

Although the Toyota Kiwi Guardian programme has now finished and you can no longer claim the medals.

The activities are still a fantastic way for your tamariki to help support our conservation efforts and to learn about native species.  


Below is a link to the "Backyard Detective" activity!

If we know what predators are hanging around in our backyard, we know what traps to set to help protect our native species, like the Rowi Kiwi!

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Click the image to download a PDF Instruction sheet to find out what predators may be lurking in your back yard.

What is being done to protect the Rowi Kiwi from extinction?

Have you heard of Operation Nest Egg? Rowi Kiwi eggs are collected from the wild at Ōkārito and taken to the wildlife centre on the West Coast to be incubated. They take up to 80 days to hatch, Operation Nest Egg then takes these Rowi babies to Motuara Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, to provide a safe, food-rich, crèche environment for the chicks to grow in away from predators. When they are big and strong, they are taken back to their home in the Ōkārito forest. Operation Nest Egg enables the number of birds to make it to adulthood rises from 2 to approximately 34 per season.

Rowi Kiwi

What YOU can do!

What can you do to help?

- Have a go at the DOC Kiwi Guardian Activity above, see what pests live in your area and go the extra mile by asking an adult to help you trap these pests, keeping predator numbers under control. This not only helps Rowi Kiwi, but all of our native birds.

- If you visit a Kiwi sanctuary, please leave your pets at home! It is not safe to bring your dog for a walk through a Kiwi Sanctuary, in case they smell one and hunt it down in its burrow. You can report any dogs seen in kiwi sanctuaries to DOC.

- Do not release unwanted cats or ferrets into the wild. They will kill kiwi and other birds.

- Tell Mum and Dad to keep their speed down! Watch out for birds on roads when travelling near a kiwi sanctuary after dark.

- Get involved. Join a local kiwi conservation project or start one yourself! Visit or

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Image Credit - Department of Conservation

GAME - The Predator Game 

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Predator Game

Click the image to download the instructions to the predator game!

This game is a great way to learn about the negative impact predators have on our precious taonga - the Rowi Kiwi. 

It also teaches us how essential pest control is for the survival of our Rowi - demonstrating the positive effects it has on their survival rate!


Rowi Kiwi Gallery 
Images from our most recent kiwi event

2023 Rowi Kiwi Day 

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