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Great Spotted Kiwi Apteryx haastii
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it is suspected to be in rapid decline, based on probable annual declines (assuming half the population is stable in wet, upland areas) and predation by introduced species.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

45 cm. Largest kiwi, flightless, no visible wings. Light greyish-brown feathers with horizontal white mottling. Long ivory bill. Voice Loud, shrill, warbling whistle (male), slower, lower-pitched, ascending warble (female). Hints Loud calls at night, especially first two hours of darkness.

Distribution and population
Apteryx haastii has always been confined to the South Island of New Zealand, but its range has contracted and been fragmented significantly since European settlement, and several populations have disappeared. The three main populations are: north-western Nelson to Buller River, Paparoa Range, and Hurunui River to Arthur's Pass (Heather and Robertson 1997). In 1996, the population was estimated at 22,000 (± c.25%) birds (Robertson 2003), but by 2008 this had declined to an estimated 16,000 (Holzapfel et al. 2008). It was assumed to be declining at a rate of 5.8% per year like its congener, Brown Kiwi A. australis (McLennan et al. 1996), but more recent monitoring indicates that wet, upland areas (which hold approximately half the population) may be stable or perhaps only declining slowly (H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999, Robertson et al. 2005). Also the decline of 5.8% is now thought to have been too pessimistic and the actual figure is closer to 2.5% per year (Robertson et al. 2010), which is still unsustainable. 

Population justification
This species is little known, but its population is estimated to number c.8,000 individuals split across two or three isolated populations. This is roughly equivalent to 5,300-5,400 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Introduced predators are suspected to be causing the species to decline rapidly overall.

Habitat It lives in forested mountains from sea-level to 1,500 m, but mainly in the subalpine zone of 700-1,100 m. It uses a wide variety of habitats including tussock grasslands, beech forests, podocarp/hardwood forests, scrub and pasture. Diet It feeds primarily on invertebrates but fallen fruit and leaves are also taken (Heather and Robertson 1997). Breeding A single egg is layed, usually in a burrow (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Incubation is amongst the longest of any bird, between 75-85 days (Calder et al. 1978). Chicks hatch fully-feathered, and first leave the nest unaccompanied after about a week. It is long-lived, with generation time taken to be 15 years (H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999).

Introduced predators are the greatest threat, in particular, mustelids Mustela spp., brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula, cats, dogs and pigs. As a result, chick survival is likely to be very low like its congener, Brown Kiwi A. mantelli, with at least 94% of chicks not surviving to maturity, except in very wet highland area, perhaps because here rodent prey density means predators are scarce (McLennan et al. 1996, Robertson et al. 2005). A. haasti is the only kiwi species that has no secure populations on islands (Robertson 2003, Holzapfel et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Underway
Monitoring is intensive and nationally coordinated, and uses call-counts, specially-trained dogs searching for banded birds, and radio-tracking. One small population in the eastern Southern Alps is managed intensively by controlling predators (H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999), and also by removing and incubating eggs and returning the subadults once they are large enough to fend off predators (Holzapfel et al. 2008). The latter approach has been funded by the Bank of New Zealand programme since 1995 under the name Operation Nest Egg (ONE, or BNZONE) (Colbourne et al. 2005). Populations from northwest Nelson have been introduced onto Rotoiti Island in Nelson Lakes National Park (BNZ Save the Kiwi 2011). Leg-hold traps for predators are routinely raised above the ground in kiwi areas to prevent accidental trapping (H.A. Robertson in litt. (1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out large-scale predator control at all sites where the population is greater than 200 pairs, and incorporate sites with populations of 50-200 pairs into the BNZONE programme (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Undertake population modelling to determine regional variation in population dynamics and management needs in the Southern Alps. Investigate landscape-scale remote monitoring techniques for sparse populations (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Evaluate islands for possible translocations. Intensively manage at least one, preferably two, populations to secure a minimum of 500 pairs within a managed population and potentially create a source for introductions into other areas (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Promote legislative and policy changes to protect populations and encourage high-quality advocacy at all levels (Robertson 1998, Holzapfel et al. 2008). Educate and inform the public and encourage community involvement in Kiwi conservation (Robertson 2003, Holzapfel et al. 2008).

BNZ Save the Kiwi. 2011. Great Spotted Kiwi-BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust. Available at: (Accessed: 05/03/2012).

Calder, W.A., Parr, C.R. and Karl, D.P. 1978. Energy content of eggs of Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis-extreme in avian evolution. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 60(2): 177-179.

Colbourne, R., Bassett, S., Billing, A., McCormack, H., McLennan, J., Nelson, A. and Robertson, H. 2005. The development of Operation Nest Egg as a tool in the conservation management of kiwi. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Heather, B. D.; Robertson, H. A. 1997. The field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Holzapfel, S.; Robertson, H.A.; McLennan, J.A.; Sporle, W.; Hackwell, K.; Impey, M. 2008 . Kiwi (Apteryx spp.) recovery plan: 2008–2018. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 1: ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McLennan, J. A.; Potter, M. A.; Robertson, H. A.; Wake, G. C.; Colbourne, R.; Dew, L.; Joyce, L.; McCann, A. J.; Miles, J.; Miller, P. J.; Reid, J. 1996. Role of predation in the decline of kiwi, Apteryx spp., in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 20: 27-35.

McLennan, J.A., Dew, L., Miles, J., Gillingham, N. and Waiwai, R. 2004. Size matters: predation risk and juvenile growth in North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 28(2): 241-250.

Robertson, H. 2003. Kiwi (Apteryx spp.) recovery plan 1996-2006. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Robertson, H. A. 1998. Kiwi recovery plan 1996--2006. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Robertson, H. A.; McLennan, J. A.; Colbourne, R.M.; McCann, A.J. 2005. Population status of great spotted kiwi (Apteryx haastii) near Saxon Hut, Heaphy Track, New Zealand. Notornis 52: 27-33.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

New Zealand Govt - Dept of Conservation - Recovery Plan

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Martin, R, McClellan, R., Taylor, J.

Robertson, H.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Apteryx haastii. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Great spotted kiwi (Apteryx haastii) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Apterygidae (Kiwis)
Species name author Potts, 1872
Population size 5300-5400 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 8,600 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species