Kiwi Bird Sanctuary
Rainbow Springs houses a Kiwi Sanctuary where they hatch North Island Kiwi bird eggs as part of an effort to save the species. Land mammals aren’t native to New Zealand and when Europeans first arrived they brought with them mammals like ferrets, dogs, cats and weasels. These land mammals eat the flightless Kiwi birds and their eggs. Now, only 5% of kiwi birds hatched in the wild survive to be adults. So, in 1995 Rainbow Springs started hatching Kiwi bird eggs in a protected environment. When the eggs have hatched and the chicks are mature enough to survive on their own they are released back into the wild.
The Kiwi Bird Encounter allows visitors to watch the egg hatching process. A fascinating fact about the Kiwi bird is that it has the largest egg-to-body ratio of any animal in the world. (Go November to March to see the little chicks being born.) But, even if you go during none peak months you can see three Kiwi Birds that are permanently part of the Rainbow Springs family. (These three birds that can’t survive on their own in the wild.) Since Kiwis are nocturnal, the park set up a special artificial “moonlight” to allow visitors to see the birds during our day but at “night” when the birds are the most active.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the real Kiwi birds (to avoid disturbing them), but here are some pictures from the exhibit:
Rainbow Springs Birds and Animals
Besides the Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, Rainbow Springs also houses many other New Zealand birds and animals. Here are a few we saw:
New Zealand Pigeon
If you are ever in Rotorua, New Zealand I would definitely recommend a trip to Rainbow Springs. The animals are amazing and the tour was informative.
Disclaimer: Our airfare to New Zealand was paid for by Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand gave us media passes. Rainbow Springs and the Kiwi Encounter gave us free entry to the park in conjunction with our media passes.