Once kiwi have established a territory and formed a pair, the business of breeding begins.

The burrow - Header Image

Building a burrow

Kiwi may dig their nesting burrows up to two months before the first egg is laid. Sometimes they use an existing nest.

The burrow is usually lined with an untidy nest of soft leaves, grass and moss. When inside, kiwi often pull leaves and sticks across the entrance as camouflage and to retain heat and moisture.

Different types of burrow

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

The birds can use their strong legs and claws to dig a burrow in the earth of a bank or slope. Or their day shelter may simply be in a hollow tree, under a log, in a rock crack or within a dense clump of vegetation.

Great spotted kiwi prefer dens to simple burrows. Unlike the little spotted kiwi and the brown kiwi, which tend toward simple one-entrance burrows, the great spotted kiwi will put time and effort into constructing a labyrinth of tunnels several metres long, and with more than one exit.


A kiwi sleeps standing up. Like many birds, it often turns its head back against its body and tucks it under its wing. However, unlike other birds that have big wings and small beaks, this posture can make the kiwi look slightly ridiculous – its 20-centimetre beak does not easily tuck under the tiny crooked stump of its vestigial wing.