Kaweka Forest Park is situated in the central North Island between Hawke’s Bay and Taupo. It contains a mixture of beech forest, kanuka and manuka scrub with pockets of podocarp forest and alpine tussock at higher altitudes.
The park contains a small, nationally important wild population of eastern taxon North Island Brown Kiwi. South of Hawke’s Bay kiwi are effectively extinct. If left unmanaged our local kiwi population will also become extinct as 95% of juvenile kiwi are killed, predominantly by stoats and dogs.
Our goal is to restore a population of 2,000 kiwi in the Kaweka Forest Park.
To reach this goal we have established a core breeding population of around 50 transmitted male kiwi. By monitoring the data outputs from transmitters attached to the males we are able to establish if a kiwi is nesting and, later, if chicks have hatched. When chicks are 10 days old the nest is raided and chicks taken to the Kiwi Creche at Lake Opouahi Scenic Reserve for rearing. Each transmitted adult kiwi is also given a health check once a year.
To increase the genetic diversity of the Kaweka kiwi population 20 juvenile kiwi have been exchanged with another Hawke’s Bay kiwi project based at Maungataniwha Forest.
Extreme weather poses a challenge
Hot and dry in the summer and snow-clad in winter, the Kaweka Forest Park is a challenging place to maintain a kiwi population. Heavy snow and high river levels can mean access to the park is sometimes impossible and extreme weather events can create long term problems. A snowstorm in 2016 flattened large tracts of forest. As a result bush travel will be difficult for many years to come.
Kiwi tracking dog
Kaweka kiwi work is carried out by a group of dedicated volunteers along with valuable team member, Holly, an accredited kiwi tracking dog. During her travels through the bush Holly has ‘found’ at least 10 new kiwi for the project. While Holly assists in kiwi recovery most dogs pose a real danger to kiwi. Consequently dogs are not permitted in Kaweka Forest Park unless they have been kiwi-aversion trained.
Learn more about kiwi-aversion training for dogs: