Cases of mistaken identity between possums and kiwi, are leading to the endangered birds getting hit by cars.

One of the birds was the victim of a hit and run in Raurimu last night, and now the Department of Conservation is pleading for more care.

Tongariro district Kiwi Ranger Jenny Hayward said the rare birds really didn't understand roads, fast cars, or trucks.

"Watch out for endangered kiwis wobbling across roads at night."

"They look a bit like our predator possums but if you see a furry ball scurrying across the road, just step off the gas and slow down, it may be a kiwi".


A photo of last night's hit and run exists, but DoC said it was too gruesome to be made public.

Fragmented populations of kiwi across the central North Island meant they would often travel considerable distances, following the calls of birds further away.

But that could see them in danger when they crossed the road at night.

Biodiversity senior ranger Malcolm Swanney said the ski season meant lots of visitors travelling at night, with many unaware that endangered kiwi lived in forests next to the major highways.

Advice from DoC is that drivers travelling through the central North Island should keep an eye out for kiwi road signs, and slow down when they see them as it means the birds live in the area.

If you see what you think is a pest species, take care anyway, as it could be one of our endangered birds.