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Watch: Great spotted kiwi charges hikers in rare daytime encounter on Heaphy Track

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi protecting its territory has been captured on camera by a family hiking on the Tasman Region's iconic Heaphy Track.

The footage was taken by Areta Milne, who was walking the track with her mother Marian on Sunday, September 9 when they spotted the kiwi.

At first the kiwi seems curious to meet his visitors, but then begins snapping its beak at the pair before charging them.

Areta and Marian then back away respectfully leaving the native bird to go about his business.

The family believe the kiwi, which they have identified as a great spotted kiwi, lunged at them as it was protecting its nest.

Department of Conservation's Principal Science Advisor Hugh Robertson gave 1 NEWS his insight into the encounter.

"It is pretty unusual for a great spotted kiwi to be out and about during the day, but perhaps it was recently disturbed from its daytime den. Sick/starving/blind birds can sometimes be out and about in daylight. 

"The bird is either a male or a subadult, and I think the latter is most likely judging by its apparent size.

"This video clip is a good opportunity to remind people that our wildlife, including kiwi, are wild animals and should be given space. It's an offence to touch or hold kiwi without permission from DOC," Mr Robertson said.

The Milne family also hope their video will highlight kiwi conservation in New Zealand and don't want to reveal the exact location where the encounter took place so the kiwi isn't disturbed.