On Rotoroa Island in the unusual calm of the Hauraki gulf, Auckland gained four new kiwi chicks yesterday.
The birds were transported from hatcheries in Taupo and Rotorua, through the Auckland border, to their new home on the predator-free island.
The tiny Rotoroa Island off the East Coast of Waiheke Island is a perfect creche for the birds.
"We call it a Kōhanga for kiwi," says ecologist Jo Ritchie, who helped release the birds.
"We keep them here until they are about 1200g, then they get caught and go back to Coromandel. Some of them will go to Motutapu."
For now, the birds Will, Nena, Kapow and Baffle have a lot of growing to do.
The youngest bird, Nena is just 17 days old and weighs over 300g.
"The great thing about Rotoroa is because it's predator-free, the chicks grow really quickly. There's a real abundance of insects around," says Jo.
The birds made the six-hour journey in one trip, and she thanked the two bird couriers who were tested for Covid at the Auckland border.
They join a population of around 25 kiwis and three Takahē on Rotoroa Island.
Normally Rotoroa is accessible by a daily ferry from Auckland CBD and Coromandel Town. There is also accommodation on the island with 45 bunks, which makes it the perfect place for observing the nocturnal birds.
However, these are not running under the current Covid restrictions, says the Rotoroa Island Trust.
"Once it's safe to hold gatherings, the Trust looks forward to welcoming public to witness future kiwi releases. Island Rangers ask that if anyone is out boating with their dog to please leave it onboard when coming ashore," said the Trust.
Private boats are allowed to visit the island under current alert levels but should be careful to protect the island's predator-free status.
Rotoroa Island has been a key creche island for the Kiwi Recovery Programme for 8 years, working with Thames Coast Kiwi Care, Kiwis for Kiwi and the DOC.
Elsewhere in the gulf, DOC managed islands are asking visitors not to visit their predator-free islands under current Covid restrictions.
"DOC and island staff on other islands in the gulf are considered one bubble and to keep them safe we are asking people to not venture to the islands," said a spokesperson for DOC.
Staying overnight on DOC managed islands around Auckland is still prohibited.
Travel to Waiheke Island and Aotea/Great Barrier is still prohibited for visitors unless you are a resident on these islands.
D0C's guide to pest-free motu
To protect New Zealand's pest-free islands and other motu, prepare by:
Checking bags and gear for pests such as insects.
Cleaning footwear and kit, washing treads and checking for mud or seeds.
Closing bags with zips or sealable bags to keep stowaways out.
You'll have to leave your pets at home and don't be surprised if rangers ask to check your gear on arrival. Always check specific rules at doc.govt.nz, before you set off.
Check alert levels and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz