As the All Blacks prepare for their first game in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a cute new supporter has just emerged at the West Coast Wildlife Centre.
Weighing in at just 322g (11oz) ‘McCaw’, the first South Island kiwi chick to hatch this breeding season, has arrived just in time to watch his favourite team take the field.
Named after the inspirational All Black captain Richie McCaw, the rowi kiwi chick took six-and-a-half days to hatch and will spend his early days in an incubator before getting ready to face life in a predator free location.
Rowi are the rarest kiwi in the world with less than 500 birds left alive in the wild and found only in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary at nearby Franz Josef, on the South Island’s south-western coast.
“It has been a really exciting start to the hatching season,” says kiwi husbandry manager Kim Bryan-Walker, “with 26 eggs already incubating at the moment and we are expecting to successfully hatch up to 90 chicks this season alone.”
The centre is well poised to have an entire world cup squad by the end of the tournament with little McCaw leading the way like his namesake.
The West Coast Wildlife Centre is the South Island’s largest kiwi hatching facility and is open to the general public. Visitors can go “behind the scenes” to see kiwi hatching and rearing facilities and see the world’s rarest kiwi’s up close in the nocturnal house and bush walkway.
Since first opening in November 2010, the West Coast Wildlife Centre has hatched a total of 246 kiwi chicks, in partnership with the Department of Conservation and “Kiwis for Kiwi” – The Kiwi Trust. This involves removing eggs from the risk of predation in the wild, hatching them in captivity, and placing the chicks in a predator -free environment until they are big enough to defend themselves.
Every week until the end of January, kiwi eggs are delivered to the Wildlife Centre by the Department of Conservation and this year the team is gearing up for its busiest season ever.
In the North Island the team at Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter have also welcomed a fluffy new arrival. Slightly bigger than McCaw at 346g (12oz), the brown kiwi is now waiting for a sibling to be born.
Kiwi Encounter is New Zealand’s largest hatchery for brown kiwi and plays a crucial role in kiwi conservation and breeding as New Zealand’s largest and most successful kiwi hatching centre.
The West Coast Wildlife Centre is located in Cowan St, Franz Josef, on the West Coast of the South Island, and close to the famed Franz Josef Glacier. Franz Josef is a 4.5 hour drive from both Queenstown and Christchurch. The centre is open daily from 8.30am or book a VIP behind the scenes tour.
Rainbow Springs is at 192 Fairy Springs Rd, Rotorua - right next to the Skyline Gondola. There is a public bus from downtown Rotorua which drops visitors outside the park. There are day and evening experiences, including a behind-the-scenes kiwi nursery tour.