Most of their kiwi costumes had been shed by the time the real thing showed up.

But pupils at Glenbervie School were thrilled when New Zealand's native icon showed up to their dress-up day.

To see the rare bird out during the day is amazing enough, let alone one with just one leg. The pupils were introduced to the Native Bird Recovery Centre's famous "Sparky" as part of their conservation education.

Seven-year-old Lauren Watchlin was impressed when Sparky visited the school yesterday during Save Kiwi Month.

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"He is quite cute. I've never seen a kiwi, and I've never seen a kiwi without a leg."

After having a pat, she described the feathers as "sort of soft, sort of spiky".

"They are not fluffy, but he's very cute."

Classmate Tayla Yates, also 7, said it's important to never touch a kiwi's beak because it's so sensitive.

"It's like poking them in the eye."

The dress-up day raised $256 for conservation work on Matakohe-Limestone Island. Pupils would visit the island this term and have the chance to name a kiwi chick.