Some Kerikeri residents are calling for the speed limit to be slashed in the Rangitane and Opito Bay area after three kiwi, one of them a chick, were killed by cars on Opito Bay Rd in six days.
Conservation advocates are now urging drivers to be extra vigilant as hot, dry conditions force the birds out during daylight hours in search of water and food.
Opito Bay resident Julie May was driving home with her husband when they spotted the baby kiwi in the middle of the road near the entrance to the Kerikeri Cruising Club and Marina. 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," Julie said.
"It was quite upsetting. It was so tiny and obviously disorientated. The poor little guy didn't stand a chance."
She often saw kiwi in the area at night, and made a point of slowing to 40-50km/h to avoid hitting them — "I'm like a nana on the road, but if it saves a kiwi I don't care."
Others needed to do the same, she said, and the speed limit should be lowered from its current 100km/h.
She was "gob-smacked" that the Far North District Council did not include the Rangitane and Opito Bay roads in its recent speed limits bylaw review, which was making changes to roads in several areas 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 the country, and seven were known to have been killed by cars on Rangitane, Redcliffs and Opito Bay roads last year.
Kerikeri Peninsula Pest Control co-ordinator Dean Wright said the deaths were "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," he said.
"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.
"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," he added.
DoC Bay of Islands community senior ranger Fleur Corbett said the dry, hot weather was disorientating kiwi, which were unable to feed because the ground was so hard.
She too 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," she said.
The birds have been given to the Department of Conservation, which will check their condition and hold them until it's appropriate to have a "handing back" ceremony for local hapū.