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The Best Place to See Kiwis - Kiwi House in Otorohanga New Zealand

Kiwi House New Zealand Best Place To See Kiwis

When I was growing up in an International School in Tokyo, one of my best friends was from New Zealand. Her room was adorned with kiwis; stuffed animals, posters, bed sheets and more. Because of its obvious cuteness, I was obsessed with them and to this day, one of the goals I had of visiting New Zealand was to see a kiwi in real life. So naturally, I had to Google the best place to see kiwis in New Zealand! 

While I had heard that the Auckland Zoo would have kiwis, I luckily came across the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park online as I was researching the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It’s not too far away from the caves so it was perfect! Not only that, I loved that the Kiwi House is a non-profit conservatory where they rescue, foster and treat native birds that need help.

Kiwi House New Zealand Best Place To See Kiwis

Where is the Kiwi House? 

The Otorohanga Kiwi & Native Bird Park is located in Otorohanga, which is about 20 minutes NE of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which I wrote about last week. It's the perfect combination of nature if you're already making your way to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

Since the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is time-sensitive, I would recommend finishing the activities at the caves first, then head to the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park. Since the Kiwi House is open every day from 9AM-5PM, you have plenty of time to visit. It's not a large facility either so you'll only need a couple of hours.

We took the cave tour first, then drove up to Otorohanga, ate at the McDonald's located downtown (I'm not kidding, the McDonald's anywhere outside of the U.S is so much better - the Kiwi Burger is scrumptious!), spent about 2-3 hours at the Kiwi House and back up in Auckland by 6PM.


Kiwi House New Zealand Best Place To See Kiwis

Kiwi House New Zealand Best Place To See Kiwis

Kiwi House New Zealand Best Place To See Kiwis

What can you see at the Kiwi House?

Obviously their selling point at the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park are the adorable kiwis. It's important to note that kiwis are nocturnal, so you'll be seeing kiwis in the dark if you're lucky. There are 2 Kiwi huts at the park and both of them are pitch black. It takes a few minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark before you can start looking for kiwis.

I saw a lot of negative comments through reviews about not being able to see kiwis and here's my thoughts on that:

First and foremost, the Kiwi House & Native Bird Park is a conservatory. They are a non-profit organization that fosters, rescues and nurtures birds that can't otherwise survive in the wild. If a bird is able to get brought back to tip top shape and able to survive in the wilderness, they are released back to nature. They're not out to make money which is very obvious when you get there. Almost all the customer-facing employees are volunteers, their 'gift shop' is rather sad (if they wanted to make profit, they would make merchandise, which they had none of) and the facility hasn't been updated in decades. However on the bird's point of view (see what I did there?), you can tell it's a haven. The amount of space they get is incomparable to zoos. This is the big reason why people complain about not being able to see kiwis - the kiwis have so much space to roam, live and hide. The space is not made to please the visitors, it's made to keep the kiwis happy and healthy. So yes, you may have to wait a while or come back at feeding time for you to be able to see the kiwis but if you're patient, you'll be able to.

We were lucky enough to be greeted by a kiwi the second we stepped food into the kiwi house and I consider that good luck! There's nothing like seeing a real life kiwi since they're a lot bigger than you would imagine and just simply adorable. Obviously there are no photos allowed in the dark kiwi houses so I can't provide any for you to see but trust me, they were there and freakishly cute.

Now the rest of the park are full of native birds. If you're a bird lover like I am, it's honestly almost as fun as Disneyland. I got to see birds I had never seen before. Just like the kiwis, they all get a lot of space, lots of lush greens and clearly lots of love and care.

The aviary was especially fun for me since you can feed the kakarikis, a bright green little bird with a red head. They're very gentle, they don't bite and they're as sweet as could be! They nibble bird food out of your hands and some of them will let you gently touch them.


Kiwi House Otorohanga Best Place To See Kiwis

Kiwi House Otorohanga Best Place To See Kiwis

Kiwi House Otorohanga Best Place To See Kiwis

My final thoughts on the Kiwi House... 

I loved my quick visit to the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Like I mentioned, I’m a big animal lover and had birds growing up, so I’m especially fond of birds which makes this visit that much more special. First and foremost, I’m floored by the fact that I was able to finally see a real life kiwi! I swear, we didn't leave the kiwi section for over 30 minutes, ha! It was of course also so fun to see native birds that I would normally not be exposed to here in the US. I loved running into the rogue ‘boss’ bird that likes to escape his area and roam the grounds - such a memorable moment! If you’re looking for things to do in New Zealand or want to see kiwis in New Zealand, the Kiwi House is a great place to see them and for a good cause!  

Information: 
Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park
Address: 20 Alex Telfer Drive, Otorohanga 3900, New Zealand
Parking: Plenty of free parking in their parking lot 
Admission: $24 NZD / Adult


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Kiwi House Otorohanga Best Place To See Kiwis

14 comments

  1. It makes sense that Otorohanga Kiwi house is built with the birds' best interests in mind. I didn't realise that Kiwi's are nocturnal! I learned something new today. AND I haven't tried McDonalds in the US yet, but maybe that explains why we have so many branches in Australia.

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  2. This is very cool - both the birds and the non-profit rescue effort. I've never seen kiwis before and would love to meet them too, someday. #FlyAwayFriday

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  3. Here I go learning something new everyday. Had no idea Kiwis are nocturnal. I loved watching your IG stories on your trip to NZ. Definitely on my bucket list. #FlyAwayFriday

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  4. What a great trip, love the fact that it is for such a good cause too :) #flyawayfriday

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  5. Thanks for sharing your experience from the birds point of view (loved that!). It doesn't make sense to have a conservatory that do not meet the needs of the animals that live in there. People want places to meet their needs. Plus, they want pictures to post all over social media. But thing do not always work like that. #FlyAwayFriday

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  6. I would love to see Kiwis sooo much!

    We saw a sign for a Kiwi crossing point near Tongariro, but that was the closest I came to meeting a Kiwi in Kiwiland! If I go back I will have to do my best to make it here as I'd love to meet them, even in the dark!

    Did you see any Lea birds while you explored NZ? I think those were my favorites as they had such big bird personalities!!

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  7. What a fun experience! I had no idea kiwis were nocturnal. Good tip on doing the Kiwi house and the glow worm caves on the same day.

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  8. That must be such an awesome experiene!!! Also love that it's so close to the glowworm caves - you get two in one really! #FlyAwayFriday

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  9. I'm so glad you got to see a real Kiwi in the flesh! They are such special birds to us New Zealanders, hence why people from NZ are called Kiwis. I have been fortunate enough as a journalist to participate and report on Kiwi releases - where Kiwi chicks are released back into the bush after being in the hatchery, once they are strong enough. It's a really big deal when it happens and there's always a special Maori blessing and song when each Kiwi is released back into the wild.

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  10. I would love to see kiwis and kakarikis! It's always so exciting to see wildlife that you would never see at home. New Zealand is DEFINITELY on my list and I'm excited to see more of your posts about it! #flyawayfriday - Caity

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  11. I like how you point out that the non-profit sanctuary is for the birds. Cool that you went to support it! I was lucky enough to see a kiwi in the wild while hiking Stewart Island down off the south island. As an animal lover too I loved this post! :)

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  12. I love non-profits and sanctuaries like these that work to rescue and nurture animals. It warms my heart that people are doing such great work! I'm glad that you got to see a kiwi in person. I am eagerly awaiting the day that I have that moment with a sloth!

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  13. Loved reading this. I'm not a big fan of birds, but I will concede that kiwis are pretty adorable! It is awesome that kiwis have a place for rehabilitation (and hopeful re-release into the wild).

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  14. I love this. I went to a kiwi house in Queenstown and it was one of the most rewarding outings during the trip. These elusive birds are just the sweetest.

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