Double National Kiwi Hatchery celebration on the cards
Rotorua’s National Kiwi Hatchery will reopen to manuhiri (visitors) in time for both the September school holidays and to celebrate the hatching of its first kiwi chick of the season.
The hatchery will reopen – with adjusted operating hours and tour times to accommodate the domestic market – on Saturday 26 September thanks to funding from the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP). The Ngāi Tahu Tourism-owned hatchery has been closed to manuhiri since the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
Mike Pohio, Chief Executive of Ngāi Tahu Holdings, Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s parent company, says the team is excited about the reopening, which fittingly coincides with the season’s first kiwi chick hatching.
“It’s great to be back supporting Rotorua – a town that is deeply important to us. COVID-19 has had a big impact on the city’s tourism and, therefore, economy, so we are very pleased to be playing our part in helping it recover,” he says.
“All going well, National Kiwi Hatchery visitors will also have the excitement and privilege of viewing a newly-hatched kiwi chick. We know New Zealanders are looking for new experiences, so having the hatchery open for the upcoming school holidays is a real bonus.”
Kiwi eggs incubate for around 78 days and one of the first eggs of the season is very close to hatching. Like most births and beginnings, kiwis are unpredictable so there is no knowing the exact date, but the hatchery team says it is very close and anticipation is building.
The National Kiwi Hatchery is a leader in kiwi husbandry, egg incubation systems, hatching techniques and kiwi chick rearing. Each year it incubates and hatches more than 100 kiwi chicks with 125 hatched last season. Of those 125 chicks, only six would have survived if they had been left in the wild. Last season 72% of all brown kiwis hatched nationwide came from the hatchery.
Visitors to the National Kiwi Hatchery get a behind the scenes tour of operations – a unique experience from a team proud of the contribution they make to the kiwi breeding programme. Not only can visitors view the hatchery programme, but they also learn about the operations at the kiwi hospital facility where sick and injured kiwi are brought in from the wild.
Kiwi Hatchery Manager Tumu Kaitiaki Kiwi Emma Bean says: “Since 1995 we have successfully hatched 2,048 kiwi chicks with an average hatch success rate of more than 95%. The National Kiwi Hatchery is the only facility hatching Eastern Brown Kiwi, which are classified as ‘at risk and declining’ by the Department of Conservation.”
The National Kiwi Hatchery is located at the Rainbow Springs Nature Park complex, however only the hatchery is reopening. Rainbow Springs does not yet have a reopening date.
The hatchery will be open Thursdays to Sundays from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm. The entry fee has been discounted from standard rates and entry will cost $30 per adult and $15 per child. There will be five tours per day and visitors can make bookings and find more information on the website: https://www.nationalkiwihatchery.org.nz/.
The National Kiwi Hatchery’s STAPP funding will be provided over 12 months.
Other Ngāi Tahu Tourism businesses that received STAPP funding include Dart River Adventures, Franz Josef Hot Pools, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, and Dark Sky Project. More information about the reopening of the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, and the expansions of Franz Josef Glacier Guides and Dark Sky Project operations, will be known in the coming weeks.
Other open Ngāi Tahu Tourism businesses: Dark Sky Project, Takapō; Franz Josef Glacier heli hikes (with Franz Josef Glacier Guides providing guiding services to The Helicopter Line); Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, Queenstown; Hukafalls Jet; and Shotover Jet, Queenstown. Dart River Adventures, Glenorchy reopens on 3 December, while Hollyford Track, Fiordland National Park reopens on 1 January 2021.
The National Kiwi Hatchery is also supported by Kiwis for Kiwis and the Department of Conservation’s Wildlife Institution Relief Fund.