A rugged mountaineer, it seems the Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) has forged a deal with evolution. The harsh environment that can make its life a struggle, also makes it tough going for the pigs, dogs, ferrets and stoats that would otherwise pursue it.
Also known as Roroa, the Great Spotted Kiwi population appears to be dropping slowly, by about 2 per cent a year. In 1998, there were thought to be around 11,000 pairs; down to around 17,000 adults today. Although data is limited, it seems that numbers are stable in wet, upland zones, but still in decline in drier and lower areas.
Great Spotted Kiwi live naturally in three discrete population areas, often at high altitudes. These are discussed below. A fourth population has also been established at Lake Rotoiti Mainland Island in Nelson Lakes National Park.
North-west Nelson to the Buller River
Within this area high densities of kiwi exist, such as the Gouland Downs (Heaphy Track) in Kahurangi National Park, Gunner Downs and in the hills north-east of Westport.
Northern West Coast
Within this area, good numbers remain in the Paparoa Range and in lowlands around Charleston.
The Southern Alps Between Arthur's Pass and Lake Sumner
Within this area, Great Spotted Kiwi are moderately common:
· Around the Taramakau River
· In higher altitude forest on the eastern side of Arthurs Pass to the north branch of the Hurunui River.
· A few birds were also found in the Puketeraki Range, about 15-kilometres east of their previous known distribution
Great Spotted Kiwi seem to have disappeared from Westland south of the Taipo River and from the eastern Grey Valley.
||This means the Southern Alps population is effectively isolated from the Paparoa Range population. Is this a new species in the making?|