In the area of Waitomo Caves we found our way to Otorohanga Kiwi Hoise. This is a sanctuary devoted to the preservation and reintroduction of native New Zealand wildlife. This wildlife is largely endangered due to many factors, including the introduction of other non-native species such as possums, stoats, ferrets, magpies and rats. These animals attack and destroy the native animals and/or their eggs and offspring. A breading program is in place for many indigenous animals and the predators are being culled.
At the Otorohanga facility four kiwi birds are on display in very controlled environments. These were the highlight for us as we arrived at feeding time. These birds are nocturnal and the enclosures are kept in night-time conditions during the day to allow for viewing. The kiwi were much bigger than expected and were quite aggressive with the keeper. Nevertheless, she had developed an interesting relationship with one of the birds who let her stroke it and pet it like a dog!
We also saw eels (shudder) that can live 100 years and reproduce only once, just before they die. One highlight occurred just as we were leaving the aviary. We saw a brightly covered bird sitting on a branch near the ground. As I was getting ready for a quick picture, two chicks came out from under the ground cover and were fed right in front of us!