A little brown kiwi is homeward bound after going bush for more than a year.

Pistachio was the first bird to be hatched from Otanewainuku, a native forest in Oropi.

She was raised at Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua before being moved to Warrenheip Creche sanctuary in the Waikato before losing her leg transmitter.

The Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust has been trying to locate the little kiwi for more than a year.


Otanewainuku kiwi manager David Brown said Pistachio had been seen on camera, showing her bare leg.

"She walked up to the camera and basically presented her leg and said 'look, no transmitter' and walked away again. So it was quite obviously her."

Warrenheip Creche was a 16ha predator-free bush area so there was no way she could have escaped the enclosure.

Mr Brown said a "night operation" with two conservation dogs, Neo and Honey, finally uncovered Pistachio on October 27.

The team, including trust volunteer Harry Taylor, set out about 9pm, and by 11pm they had her.

A health check showed Pistachio was is top condition, weighing in at 2.4kg, so a new transmitter was popped back on one of her legs and she was released again.

Finding Pistachio was critical to the trust's work, Mr Brown said.

"We have a limited number of birds we can have go into the creche. If she is taking up one of those spaces, we can't put another young chick in. It is a numbers game. It was great to find her, but she was playing hard to get."

Later this month, she will be caught again, and transported to Tauranga to be released back into Otanewainuku.

Although the trust was short on males, there was every hope she would eventually find a partner and breed.

Pistachio would bring the number of kiwis at Otanewainuku to 15.

A tough nut to crack

Pistachio is a special bird for the Otanewainuku Trust.

She was the first chick to be born to parents, Maui and Whetu, who for years had produced only infertile eggs. It has been questioned if infidelity was involved, as the parent pair are actually brother and sister.

"Kiwis can hold very long partnerships, but it is understood now they will take on different partners occasionally," David Brown said.

Pistachio was born on May 1, 2013 at Kiwi Encounter. Staff had to help crack open her shell.

She was released into the Warrenheip Creche on September 8 that year with a transmitter.

On September 15, 2015 she slipped her transmitter and has been roaming since.

October 27, 2016 she was caught again.

November, 2016 she will be brought home.