A baby kiwi named after New Zealand supermodel Rachel Hunter has been released back into the wild after hatching in Rotorua.

The kiwi named Hunter hatched at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter during December last year.

She was released back into the Maungataniwha Native Forest yesterday at a healthy 1.1kg, in the Central North Island.

Ms Hunter, who is patron of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, said it was great to hear the little kiwi was thriving after she delivered the egg to Rotorua last November.


"It's great that Hunter is going back home. It seems like just yesterday that we took her out of the forest at Maungataniwha," she said.

"I felt really bad taking the egg from its nest, even though I knew it was for the best. We know that if left in the wild she would almost certainly not have survived."

Kiwi Encounter kiwi husbandry manager Claire Travers said Hunter was a real cutie.

"Hunter is a very cute kiwi with patches of white feathers above her eyes, she is a very healthy chick that will thrive in the wild,'' she said.

"She's actually surprisingly placid which is unusual for a female."

It is hoped Hunter will raise her own chicks in the future.

Rainbow Springs' involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of an orphaned egg.

The hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, successfully incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from across the North Island.