Four of the best places to find kiwi

1. Mataia Restoration Project, Kaipara Harbour

Populated with 13 North Island brown kiwi this winter, Mataia is the culmination of seven years' work by local farmers Gill and Kevin Adshead with Ngati Whatua O Kaipara, council, schools and ecologists on 400 hectares of coastal forest on their working farm. Eight kilometres of predator fencing, thousands of native trees and pest control have made it possible to return these special taonga to the Kaipara.

To volunteer or receive an email newsletter, contact Gill or Kevin at kgadshead@xtra.co.nz.

2. Motuihe Island

One of the pest-free islands of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, Motuihe now has little spotted kiwi - along with tuatara, bellbirds and saddleback/tieke - that you can see and hear at night. Stay in the basic camping ground, swim on the beautiful beaches, look out for our national icon.

Kiwi as.

The summer ferry timetable starts on December 26; some guided tours available.

3. Tawharanui

Community groups and the Council work together on the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI) to regenerate the wetland and forests for kiwi, pateke, bellbird, whitehead and robin - while still leaving space for recreation and sustainable farming, heritage sites and a marine park.

Look out for volunteer days and the fundraising Art in the Woolshed exhibitions.

4. Maungatautari, Waikato

An inland volcanic "island" between Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Putaruru, Maungatautari's 3400 hectares of forest canopy is now protected by extensive predator fencing so the native wildlife, including many kiwi, kereru and kokako, could be returned to the forest (along with reptiles, insects and frogs).

Judged one of Australasia's "Top 25" ecological restoration projects by Global Restoration Network, there's a visitor centre, guided walks and a terrific tree-top platform for up-close viewing.

See sanctuarymountain.co.nz and maungatrust.org for more information.

- NZ Herald

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