Stewart Island Experience, Main Wharf, Oban - Stewart Island.
Departure and return times vary depending on sunset, weather and kiwi behaviour.
What to bring
- Sturdy walking shoes/boots (up to approximately 2 hours walking on uneven and muddy tracks)
- Waterproof jacket (kiwis are very sensitive to noise so please wear a soft, quiet option where possible)
- Warm sweater/fleece jacket
- Insect repellent
- Camera (although no flash photography is allowed around the kiwi)
- Personal medication including for asthma and allergies
What we provide
- Return cruise transport to Little Glory Cove
- Experienced Nature Guide (with a pack containing phone and first aid kit)
- Complimentary tea & coffee on board our vessel (snacks are available to purchase).
A reasonable level of fitness is required (total walking time approximately 2 hours depending on kiwi behaviour). The walking track can be uneven and muddy at times, therefore please ensure you wear adequate footwear and are dressed for warmth including a wind and waterproof jacket. On occasions we may need to cancel a trip due to weather - please ensure that you provide contact information, so that we can keep you updated.
This experience aims to discover wild kiwis in their natural habitat. While you have a higher chance of finding them with our expert staff, wild animals are unpredictable, and there is no 100% guarantee kiwis will appear. Their rareness, their wild nature, and the thrill of searching are what makes the experience special and enjoyable, so we cannot offer refunds if there is no sighting.
About Rakiura Tokoeka/Southern Brown Kiwi
The Rakiura Tokoeka is found on Stewart Island. They stand approximately 40cm tall, weigh 4kg and their beak is 18-20cm long. Stewart Island tokoeka are stocky round birds and one of the largest variants of the Southern brown kiwi, with females reaching weights of over 4kg. Tokoeka means "weka with a walking stick" which references their long beak.
Tokoeka are a taonga species (a natural treasure and highly valued) for Rakiura Maori. The kiwi relies on a highly developed sense of smell and touch, rather than sight. They have whiskers on their face and around the base of its beak. The kiwi is the only bird in the world with external nostrils at the tip of its beak. Kiwi tap the ground with their beak, probing the soil to find worms or other invertebrates under the surface. They build burrows like a badger, and sleep standing up.
Kiwi are omnivores. Their stomachs contain grit and small stones, to help in the digestion process. Most of their food is invertebrates and especially native worms. The Rakiura Tokoeka are closely related to Fiordland Tokoeka, however genetic research has suggested that these Stewart Island birds are genetically different - enough to consider them as a separate species.
Kiwi face threats from three directions: predators, loss of habitat and people. The main predators are stoats, cats and dogs – which take a heavy toll on young birds during their first three months of life. Even rats have a major impact on food supply by removing the forage layer of invertebrates.