Five of our rarest birds are being raised in Dunedin to relieve pressure during their largest-ever breeding season.
The Department of Conservation moved the kākāpō chicks from Codfish Island, near Stewart Island, last Wednesday to be reared at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital.
It is the first time the facility has housed the critically endangered flightless bird species.
This year kākāpō on remote predator-free islands started breeding much earlier than usual. DoC used the opportunity to take the first round of hatched chicks from mothers and encourage them to remate.
The plan is proving successful and the department is expecting the largest breeding season ever.
Last year there were 147 kākāpō in the world, but between 30 and 50 chicks are expected this season alone.
Yesterday the Otago Daily Times was allowed a rare insight during a visit to the hospital by Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker.
I love kākāpō, they're sort of up there with my favourite New Zealand natives.
It was filmed by Dunedin-based wildlife documentary company NHNZ, which has been following staff around since early January for a five-part documentary series about the facility called Wildlife Rescue.
Hospital wildlife vet and founder Lisa Argilla said the recovery programme likely sent the birds there because of her previous kākāpō work. "I've worked with the recovery programme since 2009. I love kākāpō, they're sort of up there with my favourite New Zealand natives."
The five chicks were born on Anchor Island in Fiordland and taken to Codfish Island, which houses more than half of the birds.
The chicks are in an incubator and need to be fed every few hours, which means someone needs to be at the hospital at all times.
Eventually the birds will be introduced into a predator-free area in the wild.