A baby kiwi has spent his first few hours of life snuggled down in a nest of woollen blankets and hot water bottles in the back of a car.
The kiwi, named Whenua, hatched from his shell in front of astonished workers who had arrived at a kiwi nest in Taranaki to change his dad’s transmitter.
The workers found the egg nestled in the burrow of Trev the kiwi, who lives in Purangi forest east of Inglewood.
“They found two eggs, one of which was soft and warm,” Chair of East Taranaki Envrionment Trust Karen Schumacher said. “By the time they had finished with Trev a beak had poked out of the shell.”
Schumacher got the call from her team and rushed home to grab woollen blankets and hot water bottles.
“You have to keep them really warm when they first hatch otherwise they can get hypothermia,” she said.
Packing the newly hatched kiwi into the car, Schumacher raced up to Rotorua to Rainbow Springs Nature Park where Whenua will live until he’s at least one kilo, big enough for him to be released at Rotokare back in Taranaki.
“I’m just happy the road was open at Mokau, otherwise we would have had to take the detour through Ohura or all the way through Whanganui,” she said.
“In that instance emergency protocol says to put the kiwi down your front so he stays warm.
“Thirty degrees is the ideal temperature for newborn kiwi, so we had a good few hours on the road making sure he stayed at that.”
Weighing in at a whopping 338 grams Whenua is a healthy-sized kiwi, Schumacher said.
“It’s necessary to let them grow up in Rotorua so they have a fighting chance when we release them back into the wild,” she said.
“When they’re below a kilo they’re just not big enough to fend off any predators.”
Schumacher said the experience was “really special”.
“It’s not often you get to see a baby hatched within the hour right in front of your eyes.”