Because kiwi live in diverse habitats, from mountain slopes to exotic pine forests, it is difficult to define a typical kiwi diet.
Most of their food is invertebrates and a favourite is native worms, which can grow to more than 0.5 metres. Luckily for kiwi, New Zealand is rich in worms, with 178 native and 14 exotic species to choose from.
Kiwi also eat berries, seeds and some leaves. Species include totara, hinau, miro and various coprosma and hebe.
The kiwi’s diet is closely related to its breeding success – the birds need to build up large reserves to get through the breeding season.
Some unusual foods
Brown kiwi are known to eat bracket fungi and frogs. They are also known to capture and eat freshwater crayfish/koura. In captivity, kiwi have fished eels/tuna out of a pond, subdued them with a few whacks, and eaten them.
Quenching their thirst
Kiwi can get all the water they need from their food – juicy earthworms are 85% water. This adaptation means they can live in dry places, such as Kapiti Island.
Being nocturnal also helps – they don’t get hot, bothered and dried out by the sun.
When it does drink, a kiwi immerses its beak, tips back its head and gurgles down the water.