Kiwi life cycle - Header Image

Over millions of years, with no mammal predators, kiwi adapted to life on the ground.

They make their homes in many different environments, from snowy mountain tussock lands to coastal sand dunes, from mossy forest floors to rough farmed grasslands.

Kiwi have been described as breeding machines – they produce huge eggs with the consistency of battery hens. Take away the predators, particularly stoats and dogs, and kiwi could be successful once again.

What came first – the chick or the egg?

Adult kiwi set up a territory, prepare a nesting burrow and then mate. When the female produces her huge egg (or two), in some species only the male that incubates it. When the egg hatches, a fully feathered chick emerges to face its first few days of life.

Territory - teaser image

Territory »

Kiwi fiercely protect their territory, fighting with their sharp claws and powerful legs to inflict fatal wounds on an intruder

The burrow - teaser image

The burrow »

Kiwi can have as many as 50 burrows dotted across their territory. These take many forms, depending on the species and the location.

Mating - teaser image

Mating »

Kiwis are monogamous, meaning they only have one mate at a time. Kiwi partnerships have been known to last longer than 20 years

Producing an egg - teaser image

Producing an egg »

Kiwis lay a huge egg, which takes a huge effort to produce. One egg takes 30 days to form inside a female

Incubating the egg - teaser image

Incubating the egg »

Kiwi that incubate eggs develop a bare patch of belly skin, known as a brood patch. Free of feathers, it exposes warm blood vessels close to the surface, ideal for keeping the egg warm.

Hatching - teaser image

Hatching »

The kiwi chick has an exhausting job of kicking and pecking its way out of the egg. This process can take up to three days

The young bird - teaser image

The young bird »

Kiwi chicks hatch fully feathered and opened eyed, and survive off the rich egg yolk for several days. On about day 5, it begins to venture outside the burrow