Even though New Zealanders call themselves “Kiwis,” seeing kiwi birds in the wild is rare. At the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park, however, not only do you have the chance to see kiwi birds in the brush, but you can also learn the ways that baby kiwis are being reintroduced into the wild. Due to invasive predators, only 5 percent of wild kiwi birds will live through to adulthood, and proceeds from the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park help to fund programs to raise the birds from incubation up through release.
While the kiwi birds are the undoubted highlight of a visit, over a dozen other bird species—including alpine parrots—rain their song from high in the tree branches of the park’s melodic flight aviaries. You’ll also find the primordial tuatara waddling its way across tree branches, and this fearsome looking reptile has a natural history dating back to the dinosaurs and beyond. Once finished with the bird song and reptiles, head over to the “Big Splash” for an educational journey mixed with aquatic adventure. Over the course of the nine-minute ride, not only will you learn about New Zealand’s biodiversity, but also be jettisoned at high speeds to create towering plumes of water. Since admission is valid for 24 hours, return at night for the chance to watch kiwis as they nocturnally emerge from their dens and be immersed in the squawks, thumps, and creaks of kiwis scuttling by night.
Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park is located seven minutes north of Rotorua along the west shore of the lake. Opening hours are from 8:30am-10pm daily, and admission is $40 NZ/adult and $20 NZ/child, with family passes available for $99 NZ. The Big Splash tour is available from 10am-4:30pm, and live bird shows are every day at 11:30 a.m.