Kerikeri residents are calling for the speed limit to be slashed in the Rangitane and Opito Bay area after three kiwi - including a tiny chick – were killed by cars in a week.

All three kiwi were killed on Opito Bay Rd between last Thursday and Tuesday.

Conservation advocates are now urging drivers to be extra vigilant on the roads this summer, as the hot dry conditions are forcing New Zealand's native and endangered bird out during daylight hours in search of water and food.

Opito Bay resident Julie May was driving home with her husband Steve on Tuesday when they spotted the baby kiwi in the middle of the road near the entrance to the Kerikeri Cruising Club and Marina at 10.30am.


Northland wild kiwi population enhanced with four more birds released this week
Northland hotel room intruder turns out to be ... a kiwi
Hungry Northland kiwi foraging in daylight - again

With the road too narrow to pull over, they had to keep driving to find somewhere safe before returning to try and save it.

"By the time we stopped, and I ran back to get it, a car had gone past and run it over. It was quite upsetting. It was so tiny and obviously disorientated. The poor little guy didn't stand a chance."

May said she often sees kiwi between the hours of 9pm and 4am in the area and makes a point of slowing to 40-50km/h to avoid hitting them.

Others need to do the same, she said, and the speed limit should be lowered from its current 100km/h.

She said she's "gob-smacked" the Far North District Council didn't include the Rangitane and Opito Bay roads in its recent review - Speed Limits Bylaw 2019: Okaihau-Kaeo-Waimate - which is making changes to roads in several towns as part of a rolling review of speed limits in the district.

The Opito Bay-Rangitane area is believed to have one of the highest kiwi densities of any residential area in New Zealand.

Cars have killed 10 kiwi in the Rangitane - Opito Bay area in just over a year, despite large signs warning people to drive slowly. Photo / supplied
Cars have killed 10 kiwi in the Rangitane - Opito Bay area in just over a year, despite large signs warning people to drive slowly. Photo / supplied

Seven kiwi were killed by cars on Rangitane, Redcliffs and Opito Bay roads last year.


Of the three recent deaths, two happened near the Kerikeri Cruising Club and Marina, and the other 100m east of Kotuku Rd next to the Rangitane Reserve.

Kerikeri Peninsula Pest Control co-ordinator Dean Wright said the deaths are "really heart-breaking".

"We've got signage up and we've got solar lights on them. We're regularly posting on social media for people to slow down. It's the problem with humans living with kiwi. It's never going to be a perfect world but three in a week, that's nightmare stuff."

Wright also urged people to keep their speed down.

"They've got virtually no road sense and at night you've got to be driving slowly so if you do see one you can react in time. Take another minute to get home or to the beach or boat ramp. It might save a kiwi's life."

The birds have all been given to the Department of Conservation who will check their condition and hold onto them until it's appropriate to have a "handing back" ceremony for local hapū.

DoC Bay of Islands community senior ranger Fleur Corbett said the dry, hot weather is disorientating kiwi, who are not able to feed because the ground is so hard.

She urged drivers to be extra vigilant, not only between dusk and dawn, but throughout the day.

"These are very distressed birds. They're out looking for food and water during the day. It's something we don't normally see, so please be aware when you're driving in areas where kiwi are."

May's message to drivers is to "slow down and keep your eyes open".

"There's just too many getting killed. I'm like a nana on the road, but if it saves a kiwi I don't care."