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An amusing end to another successful kiwi season at Kiwi Encounter

Michelle Johnson

Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua has celebrated the end of another hugely successful Kiwi season. Over the course of the 2006/07 season, 112 kiwi eggs were successfully hatched and a further 18 chicks brought in to Kiwi Encounter from the wild, leaving the operation on track to release over 120 kiwis back into their natural environment.

Contented kiwi at Kiwi Encounter
Contented kiwi at Kiwi Encounter

Click here to view a larger version

Claire holds Tutaki, a kiwi chick
Claire holds Tutaki, a kiwi chick

Click here to view a larger version

The last two eggs expected in from the wild were due to arrive before Easter after Tongariro DOC workers monitored a bird sitting on eggs for just over 60 days. However, they received an unusual surprise when they went in to make the collection - they discovered a wine bottle, not an egg! The male kiwi (who was hatched and raised at Kiwi Encounter) had "incubated" the wine bottle for 63 days!

This is the second time a bird from this area of the Tongariro Forest (Karioi Rahui) has been found incubating an empty wine bottle and 3 chicks were successfully hatched from a bird called Zinger who was found doing the same thing last year. These chicks were aptly named Cab Sav, Merlot and Shiraz.

Merlot Cab Sav Shiraz
Merlot Cab Sav Shiraz

It is thought that this area of the forest was heavily logged in the past and there are a number of old bottles in the area. "It is not unusual for a broody kiwi to drag unusual things into a burrow but to have two birds in the same area incubate a wine bottle is rather unusual," says Kylie Day of Kiwi Encounter.

Kiwi Encounter and the National Kiwi Trust are already looking ahead to the 07/08 season but acknowledge the support and assistance from all the sponsors for their valuable contribution this season:

Intercity Group, More FM, EBOP, Packaging House, Swazi, Kenwood, Horizons District Council, Kiwi Paka, Yates and Hills Science and a small but valuable team of volunteers who help on a daily basis.

What is unique about Kiwi Encounter?
Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua is unlike any other "attraction" you may have visited. It is a unique conservation centre which gives visitors the opportunity to see kiwi "conservation in action" for the first time in New Zealand. In the past 12 years at Kiwi Encounter there have been nearly 436 chicks released back into the wild.

Sponsorship welcomed
For those who want to support Operation Nest Egg, there is an option of sponsoring a kiwi chick. Sponsorship starts at $NZ50. Check out the Kiwi Encounter website.

Photos for this article were supplied by Kiwi Encounter.

Editor's comment
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