Rachel Hunter’s precious kiwi egg has hatched into a healthy chick that today is being released back into its natural habitat.

Hunter the kiwi
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‘Hunter’ is now a healthy 1,114g after being incubated and hatched at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua, New Zealand, and is being released back into the Maungataniwha native forest in the Central North Island.

Claire Travers, Kiwi Encounter Kiwi Husbandry Manager says, “Hunter is a very cute kiwi with patches of white feathers above her eyes, she is a very healthy chick that will thrive in the wild, she’s actually surprisingly placid which is unusual for a female.”

Rachel, who is patron of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, says, "It’s great that Hunter is going back home. It seems like just yesterday that we took her out of the forest at Maungataniwha. I felt really bad taking the egg from its nest, even though I knew it was for the best – we know that if left in the wild she would almost certainly not have survived.

“But it’s great that now she’s big enough and strong enough to look after herself and that she’s going home to the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust property that she originally came from, which I think is one of the best parts of this story. Now she’ll raise chicks of her own and help continue the cycle of life. The relationship between Kiwis (people) and kiwi I witnessed that weekend in November last year will live long in my memory.”

Rachel adds that Hunter’s safe arrival into the world and development into a healthy kiwi chick couldn’t have happened without Claire and her fabulous team at Kiwi Encounter. “We at the Trust owe them a huge debt of gratitude for making this possible.”

Rainbow Springs’ involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of an orphaned egg and the hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, successfully incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from around the North Island.

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