A rare kiwi chick that has been recovering at Wellington Zoo for the past six weeks is heading back to the wild.

The Haast Tokoeka kiwi was admitted to the zoo's The Nest Te Kohanga for treatment in February.

The bird, named Aonach, and another of the same age, Gambit, had been flown to Wellington to be checked by vets after Department of Conservation (DOC) staff noticed they were in poor condition while checking a chick creche on Lake Te Anau.

Tests revealed they had an intestinal parasite, said Wellington Zoo veterinarian Baukje Lenting.


Gamit was unable to be saved, but Aonach responded well to treatment and steadily gained weight, Mr Lenting said.

"He is now bright, active, eating well and weighs a healthy 1.12kg," he said.
He will now be flown south to be released in the kiwi creche at Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin.

"Caring for these precious birds is a very special opportunity, and it's wonderful to be able to send them back home, fit and healthy," said Baukje.

"Wellington Zoo has a strong partnership with DOC, which highlights the importance of organisations working together for native species conservation."

The Haast Tokoeka kiwi is one of the most endangered kiwi species, with just 400 remaining in the wild.

The birds are endemic to the South Island, and most make their home in the Haast ranges, in the area covered by the Haast Kiwi Sanctuary.