Pupils from Waverley School were treated to a thrill yesterday when Nga Toro, a rare North Island brown kiwi, stopped in for a visit on her way to a new home.
The 6-month-old female came from the banks of the Waitara River located just north of New Plymouth.
She is headed to Mt Hiwi Lodge in Waverley as part of a joint venture between the lodge, the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust.
The programme involves collecting kiwi eggs from the wild, hatching them in captivity and raising the chicks at predator-free sites until they are deemed a safe age to return to the wild.
Nga Toro was released into Waverley bush for the first time yesterday as she is considered old enough to be able to defend herself in the wild against stoats, the most common kiwi predator.
Mt Hiwi Lodge owner Shaun Walton says Nga Toro is a great addition to his already established kiwi population. "It's huge for me, huge for my property and huge for the local kiwi population," he said.
"We've got an established kiwi population of five adults already, so being able to keep building that up is good."
Mr Walton says while his 32ha-property is not completely predator proof, Nga Toro and friends will be safe.
"There is a constant trapping regime going on and extended baiting stations throughout the bush as well.
"There are traps all around the boundary fences to keep predators from coming on to the property."
Nga Toro was well-received by the children at Waverley School who all gathered to learn about the kiwi. Head boy Marcus Lupton said, "I've never seen a kiwi before so it's really exciting. She is pretty small and it was just cool."
Waverley School principal Kerri McColl said the school was very lucky to have such a great opportunity.
"I'm just really excited for all the kids to see a real-life kiwi in our school," Ms McColl said. "Some kids would never have seen a kiwi before so it's an exciting experience for everyone involved."