What do you get when you cross 10 people, seven kiwi, and hundreds of kilometres of travel between the National Kiwi Hatchery and Pukaha Mt Bruce via the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow? A prime example of the collaborative magic that can happen in kiwi conservation – and what we think breaks some sort of kiwi transfer record.
On one sunny Sunday at the beginning of November, a gaggle of kiwi practitioners and volunteers congregated in various spots places all over the North Island to embark on a very ambitious kiwi transfer adventure.
The mission? To transfer six kiwi from the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua to their rearing facility at Pukaha Mt Bruce in Masterton, with a quick stop at the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow in Wairakei.
Leg 1: Wairakei to Rotorua and back again
Will from Save the Kiwi drives 80km from the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow to the National Kiwi Hatchery to pick up six chicks that are ready for their big journey (plus a seventh that he will release into the Wairakei crèche).
Leg 2: Wairakei to Havelock North
Will makes the return 80km-journey back to Wairakei. He hands six chicks to Hilda and Gary from Havelock North Rotary in the carpark of the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, and releases the seventh into the Wairakei crèche.
But wait, there’s more! Kim from the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow pops down with another chick known as ‘Headly’ who’s heading back to Cape Sanctuary after some R&R at the Burrow, making Hilda and Gary the proud courier drivers of seven wee chicks.
Hilda and Gary drive 168km to Havelock North where they drop all seven chicks off to Tamsin for a box reshuffle and an opportunity to see what was wriggling around on the drive (because by necessity some chicks had to ‘double bunk’ on this leg of the journey).
Leg 3: Havelock to Pukaha (and Cape Sanctuary)
Liz drops in to pick up ‘Headly’ and return him to Cape Sanctuary (24km). Meanwhile, Veronica and Charlie, also from Havelock North Rotary, arrive to collect the remaining six chicks for the final 180km leg to Pukaha.
Leg 4: Final stop: Pukaha Mt Bruce
When the chicks arrive at their final destination, they’re met by Jess who, along with the rest of the Pukaha Mt Bruce team, will take care of these little chaps and help them pack on the pounds, until they’re ready for the return trip back to Maungataniwha where they originally came from.
A massive thanks must go to everyone involved for pulling off a complicated but completely drama-free transfer. It just goes to show that when everyone works together, kiwi conservation is the winner on the day!
Gemma hands seven chicks to Will at the National Kiwi Hatchery.
Hilda & Gary deliver seven chicks to Tamsin in Havelock North.