One of the simplest ways to locate kiwi is to listen.

Kiwi call at night to mark their territory and stay in touch with their mate. The best time to listen is on a moonless night, up to two hours after dark, and just before dawn. That’s when kiwi stir from their burrows and call to make contact with their partner or family, and to mark their territory.

Deciphering sounds in the night forest can sometimes be confusing. Click on the icons above to hear the distinctive calls of a range of kiwi and the nocturnal animals sometimes confused for a kiwi.

What to Listen For

The call of the male kiwi is repetitive and shrill and has 8-25 notes.

The call of the female is a repetitive guttural sound of 10-20 notes.

Telling the difference

Kiwi calls can easily be confused with other nocturnal animals. Some of the more common mistakes are made with:

  • long-tail cuckoo
  • weka
  • ruru/morepork
  • possums
  • matuku/white faced heron

Click on the thumbnail in the audio player above to hear each animals’ call.

Kiwi call scheme

A kiwi call scheme run by the Department of Conservation collects information from people who can reliably identify kiwi calls and are prepared to carry out timed counts. Over the years, the scheme has provided a great baseline of information