Great Spotted Kiwi

Maori name Roroa

Scientific name Apteryx haasti

Relatives ostrich, emu, cossawary, rhea,

Average Lifespan 30 - 40 years

Habitat subalpine grasslands or forests of the South Island of New Zealand

Description pear-shaped body, long slender bill, short strong legs, 3 powerful toes, soft hair-like charcoal grey to light brown feathers mottled with white, no visible wings

Behaviour flightless, nocturnal, sleeps in a burrow

Size 45cm tall, 2.4kg (male)
50 cm tall, 3.3kg (female)

Voice Male great spotted kiwi have a high trilling whistle repeated between 6 and 20 times and the females call is lower and harsher. Other birds that can be mistaken for kiwi especially around dusk are weka and the moreporks warm up performance of rich, deep strident 'cree' calls on the same note.
Listen here (Kiwi Photo Gallery)

Senses poor eye sight, well developed sense of smell (nostrils at tip of bill)

Diet earthworms, grubs, beetles, cicadas, crickets, flies, spiders, caterpillars, slugs, snails, berries, seeds

Threats habitat loss; predators including dogs, cats, possums & pigs

pairs are monogamous

females lay 1 egg per year which hatches after
75-85 days

the male incubates the egg during the day but the female shares the incubation during the night relieving the male for a few hours so he can feed

within ten days of hatching the chick begins to hunt for food unaccompanied outside the burrow

most chicks are killed by predators in the first six months of their life

Paparoa Kiwi Facts

Paparoa kiwis are more abundant in the upper altitudinal range of the forest than in the valley floors.

They make frequent forays along the tussock tops and rocky ridge crests especially in summer when alpine invertebrates are abundant.

They are not as large as great spotted kiwi from other regions with females ranging from 2500 - 3200 g and males ranging from 1750 - 2200 g.

Their territories can be very large (100ha) and range from valley floors to tussock tops.

Did you know?

The great spotted kiwi is classified as vunerable as it may be decreasing by as much as 43% in 3 generations(45 years). The great spotted kiwi is on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Great Spotted Kiwi are fiercely territorial and will aggressively defend their territory. They mark their territories with strong smelling droppings and call frequently during the night to each other and neighbouring kiwi pairs.

Q & A

What distinguishes the Great Spotted Kiwi from the other 4 species of kiwi?

The most obvious difference is their feathers. While all 4 other species of kiwi have brown feathers in various shades the great spotted kiwi/roroa are a dark grey-brown bird whose feathers are beautifully mottled and banded with buff and brown-black which gives the bird its spotted appearance.

They are also said to be the largest of all kiwi species although some of the southern Tokoeka species are equally as large if not larger than great spotted kiwi.


How many Great Spotted Kiwi are there?

Before settlers arrived there were about 12 million Roroa on the south island of New Zealand. Now there are around 22 000 birds living in 3 main populations.

More Info

Wikipedia Great Spotted Kiwi

Birdlife International Great Spotted Kiwi Fact Sheet

Arkive Images