Kiwi return to Taranaki's Kaitake Ranges for the first time in decades

A much-loved local returned home yesterday after being gone for decades.

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The bird’s return is thanks to a massive effort to get pest numbers down. Source: Seven Sharp

Kiwi used to be plentiful in the Kaitake Ranges near Mount Taranaki until their population was decimated by predators.

Now, thanks to a massive effort to get pest numbers down the native birds are finally returning home.

The reason there were no more left in the region is obvious to experts.

"There's not a more ratty place in the country than Taranaki, we track at between 90 and 100 per cent rats every time we put track detection devices up there,” Sean Zieltjes of the Taranaki Mounga Project told Seven Sharp.

Taranaki kiwi's best chance lay further south at the Rotokare Scenic Reserve.

The reserve is a 230-hectare bird sanctuary near Eltham.

Now the birds have flourished there, they are ready to be given a chance back in the Kaitake Ranges.

"We know we're on the right track, because we're using lots of cameras in our project now and we very rarely detect a stoat or a ferret on the camera,” Zieltjes says.

Seven Sharp was there when Kowhai the kiwi was the first to be released back into the ranges near Mount Taranaki.

Watch the release in the video above.