With only 400 Rowi (Okarito) kiwi left in the wild, the little brown kiwi, who calls the West Coast of the South Island home carries the unenviable title of New Zealand’s most endangered icon.
Five years ago, Te Waonui started what has now become an award-winning ‘Kiwi Linen Programme’ and this month marks $15,000 of guest-raised donations toward the conservation of the Rowi kiwi.
The initiative aims to educate guests around the fragile fauna of the area through a range of options where a visit to the West Coast region can make a difference.
With the daily change of bed linen attracting not only a cost but also drawing on water and power resources, Te Waonui gives guests the option of not replacing their bed linen during their stay and in doing so donates 100% of these associated costs, estimated at around $5 per room to the Department of Conservation's (DOC) ‘Kiwis for Kiwi’ programme.
Participating guests still have their beds made but can leave Te Waonui knowing they have made a difference just by making a choice. This is acknowledged at check out with the guest folio showing a zero linen charge. Guests are advised as to what this means and are thanked for their contribution to this environmental initiative.
With Te Waonui Forest Retreat being a seasonal operation, the linen initiative contributions are tallied at the end of the season and usually result in around $3000 being passed on to the programme.
General manager Richard Bungeroth says 'education is key to conservation, and once guests are aware, then they are usually only too happy to participate and find that the gift of giving back during their stay enhances their sense of satisfaction and connection to the area.'
With the kiwi centre across the road, Te Waonui has a close connection with the programme. Guests visiting the kiwi centre have the option of seeing the rowi kiwi leave for fostering to a predator-free island or return to its native forest habitat as an adult for release.