It’s been 365 days since the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow was officially opened. So, what has the team and facility been up to since? A lot.

Hip hip hooray, it’s the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow’s first birthday! - Header Image

Today is a very special day on the Kiwis for kiwi calendar. It’s the official first birthday of the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow, our dedicated kiwi incubation, hatching and brooding facility located at Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, just north of Taupō.

The Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow is key to Kiwis for kiwi’s kōhanga strategy. Here’s why. Kiwi chicks only have a 5% chance of survival if they’re left to hatch and grow to adulthood on their own. That’s because predators like ferrets and stoats think kiwi eggs and chicks are delicious, which is not good news for the kiwi population which is declining at a rate of 2% every year.

Our kōhanga strategy is on a mission to turn that decline into a 2% annual increase. Here’s how we’re doing it. Firstly, our teams go out into the wild and put transmitters on adult male kiwi (the lads are the ones that sit on their eggs, not the ladies). The transmitters tell us when the males are nesting and our teams go back into the wild to collect the eggs. They’re bundled up safe and sound in special chilly bins and driven ever-so-carefully from the wild to a captive facility where they’re put into incubators and looked after as they hatch and grow.


Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow staff members Kim McGuire, Will Kahu, Helen McCormick and Kelsi Thompson

And that’s where the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow comes in. Since it opened, the Burrow has received 85 eggs, hatched 62 chicks, and (so far) released 51 chicks, mostly into Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari with a handful into the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary kiwi crèche. The Burrow currently has six more eggs in incubation and 13 birds on site, plus there’s still a second clutch to go this year so the numbers are looking awesome for the 2020/21 hatching seasons.


Kiwi keepers Kym Eagleson, Helen McCormick and Kelsi Thompson with the first chick of the season.

While the centre mainly deals with eggs arriving from the wild, every now and again our teams find chicks that have already hatched in the wild. With the expansion of the Burrow a few months ago, there’s now room for young chicks to be brought into the facility too. So far this season the Burrow has received four wild chicks which have called the Brooder Wing home before being released back into the wild.

Kiwis for kiwi is very privileged to have such incredible people working at the Burrow. Helen McCormick, the facility’s kiwi husbandry manager, is excited that this facility will make the future of the kiwi safer.

“It’s fantastic to have this purpose-built kiwi facility which so many people have contributed to,” says Helen. “It allows us to build on all the fantastic work that has been done in the past, and the extra capacity means we will be able to hatch more kiwi chicks each year to make the future of the kiwi secure. I feel privileged to be a part of such an amazing project.”

Senior kiwi keeper Kim McGuire rates this job as the best she’s ever had.

“I have worked with many awesome species of wildlife, both native and exotic, throughout my career, however my job as a senior kiwi keeper at the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow is by far the best I have ever had!” Kim says. “I feel privileged to be part of a team that is dedicated to saving our national icon. The custom-built facility has been a dream to work in as it has been designed to cater for any needs we may have in order to effectively incubate, hatch and rear wee kiwi chicks. I am one of the lucky few that love coming to work each day.”

Of course, the facility wouldn’t exist at all without the support of insurance brokers Crombie Lockwood. These guys and our other supporters are the real heroes. Crombie Lockwood partnered with Kiwis for kiwi to build the facility, Gary Lane who is the owner of Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and is a long-time supporter of Kiwis for kiwi donated the land the centre sits on, and Simplicity Kiwisaver funded the fit-out – everything from incubators and brooder boxes to electronic scales and bowls for feeding the chicks.

Crombie Lockwood sponsorship and events manager Alison Oldridge says when they learnt how quickly the kiwi population was declining, they knew they had to get involved.

“It’s was a real eye opener knowing kiwi could be gone for good within 50 years,” she says. “When we heard how building the Burrow could help accelerate recovery efforts, we jumped at the chance to be involved.

“In the short time the Burrow has been up and running, we’ve already seen the impact it’s having and are looking forward to even more activity this season and getting closer to the all-important goal of a two percent population increase rather than two percent decline.

“We are really proud that our support is giving kiwi a greater chance at survival.”

So, next time you drive past Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary on the Thermal Explorer Highway, look up on the hill and give the team at the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow a wave. They’ll be there, looking after our next generation of kiwi chicks so you and your kids and their kids will have more of a chance to see our national taonga in the wild.

“I have worked with many awesome species of wildlife, both native and exotic, throughout my career, however my job as a senior kiwi keeper at the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow is by far the best I have ever had!” Kim says. “I feel privileged to be part of a team that is dedicated to saving our national icon. The custom-built facility has been a dream to work in as it has been designed to cater for any needs we may have in order to effectively incubate, hatch and rear wee kiwi chicks. I am one of the lucky few that love coming to work each day.”