Wandering kiwi on the Heaphy Track

Department of Conservation —  14/07/2020

By Trent Burns

American visitors Trent Burns and partner were on recent excursion tramping on the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park, ticking it off their bucket list. While they were tramping they were fortunate enough to come across a Great Spotted Kiwi/roroa rustling up some grub during the day. They did all the right things, not disturbing the kiwi, keeping quiet and giving it lots of space. This is their encounter and this is their amazing footage!

My girlfriend and I recently enjoyed a stunning 5-day, 4-night excursion out on the Heaphy Track (Kohaihai to Gouland Downs and back) – truly a bucket list item for us in New Zealand. We’re Americans and have been in NZ since 5 February on working holiday visas.

On our second day, walking from Lewis Hut to James Mackay Hut, we had the unbelievable fortune of coming across a kiwi – we think a Great Spotted Kiwi. We had stopped momentarily for a drink of water when we noticed a kiwi coming up the hill, across the walking path, and continue uphill. We kept as much distance as possible but also tried not to move or make noise. The kiwi appeared healthy and was not visibly stressed but, knowing how unusual it is to see them during the day, we wanted to bring this to DOC’s attention and share our experience.

Here are some of our videos!

📷: Trent Burns
📷: Trent Burns

Sometimes kiwi feed during day if under-weight but not this one – it’s chonky! Biodiversity Ranger, Mike Ogle has confirmed that these videos show a very healthy kiwi/roroa and sightings of kiwi during the day happen every 1-2 years in that area – So Trent and his girlfriend were very lucky!

Outdoor Safety Code

If you’re planning on exploring New Zealand nature here are 5 essential things to do before you head-out, to ensure you have a great trip and make it home: Outdoor Safety Code

11 responses to Wandering kiwi on the Heaphy Track


    Such wonderful videos of the Kiwi. Thank you so much for sharing them.


    chonky boi <3

    What good luck, majority of us will go our live time without this experience!


    Great video. I watched one feeding on Ulva Island for about 10 mins on one of the tracks. Wasn’t the same type. This bideo brought back special memories.

    Evelyn Windsor 20/07/2020 at 2:07 pm

    I lived in Karamea (Oparara to be exact) when young. At night you could hear the Kiwi’s calling. Karamea is the Southern end of the Heaphy Track.The cave system in the Oparara Basin is absolutely amazing & so beautiful. The things we took for granted that are rarely seen by NZ’ers today.!


    Wow I got quite emotional seeing this. It’s funny how it’s our national bird and yet we never see them in the wild. What an amazing experience for the hikers and a big thank you to them for sharing 🙂


    I am SO jealous! I did the Heaphy two years ago and didn’t see or even hear a Kiwi. This footage is superb; wish I’d been there!

    Barbara Turner 17/07/2020 at 7:12 pm

    Beautiful pictures x




    Wow that is so fabulous, thank you sharing 🙂


    I am a 71 year old who loves the outdoors but have never seen kiwi in the wild -yet!!


      It’s not cheap, but do the overnight trip to Kapiti Island. I thoroughly recommend it for all sorts of bird life.