Two species of kiwi are being touted as global success stories after being moved off an internationally endangered list.

The North Island brown kiwi and the rare rowi (or okarito kiwi) are now classed as vulnerable, rather than endangered, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In 1995 there were just 160 individual rowi, but there are now 450 adults of the species. The rowi is on the Department of Conservation's list of vulnerable species, one step down from endangered.

The brown kiwi population is considered stable, with managed populations growing more than 2 per cent a year. Unmanaged populations are still declining and DoC classes the kiwi as being at risk of extinction.

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The turnaround is the result of 30 years of co-ordinated efforts from the government, tangata whenua, and community groups like Forest & Bird.

Conservationists started by rescuing eggs from the forest to hatch and fledge safely away from predators, which are the main threat to kiwis.

The recovery programme, known as Operation Nest Egg, helped increase juvenile survival rates while pest-control techniques were being developed, according to Forest & Bird chief conservation officer Kevin Hackwell.

North Island brown kiwi - including K2, pictured - are off the international endangered list and are now classed as vulnerable. Photo / Brett Phibbs
North Island brown kiwi - including K2, pictured - are off the international endangered list and are now classed as vulnerable. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Hackwell said it was great to have international recognition for the work of the Kiwi Recovery Group.

But he warned other kiwi species, like the great spotted and some tokoeka species, were still in serious trouble. The brown kiwi and rowi are also not out of the woods - their "vulnerable" status means both are still at a high risk of extinction in the wild.

"Predators continue to be the biggest threat to kiwi survival, which is why the latest Kiwi Recovery Plan is seeking a significant increase in large scale pest control efforts to save all of our kiwi species," Hackwell said.

"Now that kiwi recovery has proven to be so successful, we need to commit the necessary resources to make it happen elsewhere."