German Chancellor Angela Merkel is normally all business, but it didn't take long for a grumpy kiwi to coax a smile out of her - and even a wee coo.

Dr Merkel is on her first visit to New Zealand and was taken to Motutapu Island to meet a kiwi. The kiwi, Whau, was held by Department of Conservation ranger Hazel Speed while Merkel patted her.

The nocturnal bird might have been a bit cranky at being so rudely awoken, but that only seemed to endear her to Dr Merkel more as she cooed at the kiwi.

All smiles, Dr Merkel happily lifted her end of the carry box to take Whau up to the release site to let her go back to bed.

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The elder who welcomed Merkel to Motutapu informed her Whau was specially chosen for her. "She is a female, a strong one. And one we should all listen to."

Prime Minister John Key was escorting Merkel.

The pair were running 20 minutes late after he decided to take her on an impromptu visit up the Sky Tower after the pair had met for their formal bilateral visit. Mr Key tweeted pictures of her tour of the Sky Tower.

Dr Merkel will speak at Auckland University tonight, but Mr Key will have left by then for his meetings with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Merkel in New Zealand: App users click here for gallery

Mr Harper and Dr Merkel are on their way to Australia for the G20, which Mr Key will also attend this year for the first time, as an invited guest.

This morning Dr Merkel was welcomed at Government House with a hongi, haka and a 19-gun salute.