Monday, May 11, 2009

Kiwis - Rotorua, New Zealand

16th Feb

The one bird I had failed to see on my travels in New Zealand was of course the Kiwi.

Just outside of Rotorua is the Rainbow Springs Nature Park (right beside the Mitai Maori centre infact) where you can book onto their Kiwi Encounter. Admittedly it meant seeing the birds in captivity but it was the best chance I would get of seeing these nocturnal birds.

So on the morning of the 17th as I was leaving Rotorua I called into the park and did the tour. No photography is allowed so I can't show you any photos.

Myself and about 12 other people were given a guided tour through the facility. Eggs taken from kiwis in nature reserves across the north island are hatched in a special incubation room. The chicks are then moved a special brooder room where they are cared for before being placed in a special nocturnal enclosure. Finally the adult birds are released back into the wild. The place has managed to release over 1000 birds into the wild since it started.

It was a very informative and interesting tour, however, I found myself questioning the whole set up. The amount of money required to process each chick was quoted as several thousands of dollars. The eggs have to be flown by helicopter from the wild and the chicks flown back again using the same method. If all the money required for the process comes directly from the tours and nature park then I have no problem with it. But if other money is required (eg government grants) then I think that money could be better spent on saving the birds in the field by controlling predators and saving habitat.

After the Kiwi tour I went round the rest of the park which had other cages and enclosures with other New Zealand species including another tutuara. It also had several large pools full of fish. Unfortunately they were mostly non native rainbow trout but they did have other native species as well. They was also a farm section with sheep, chickens, pigs and goats - not really sure what that has to do with New Zealand nature!

Rainbow Trout pool

Heres the link to the website which has more info on the Kiwi and other animals.

Rainbow Springs Nature Park

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