A rare species of kiwi has suffered a serious blow - one of its most prolific fathers has apparently been run over.

Cee Cee, one of the best known of the critically endangered rowi kiwi, was found dead on the roadside at Okarito on the West Coast.

He was found dead by the Sky Ranger plane, part of the Department of Conservation's aerial tracking system for kiwi.

His body has been sent for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.

"He has been a great father, producing an egg with his partner each year since 2007," said DoC rowi team leader Duncan Kay.

Cee Cee, 13, could have lived to 80, and had the potential to produce another 50-60 chicks. That number equates to around 15 per cent of the current rowi population.

"His territory had always been quite close to Okarito Rd, and he had already lost two partners to cars, as well as having been hit once himself," Mr Kay said.

"To make matters worse, earlier this year Cee Cee's territory was set ablaze, but he managed to escape the fire unscathed."