What comes to mind when you hear the word “kiwi”? Most likely many kids will immediately think of the small green fruit with the tiny black seeds. But did you realize that some people might think of a flightless bird or even a person? It’s true!

Kiwi can refer to several different things. For example, it’s a fruit that’s sometimes called kiwifruit or even Chinese gooseberry. These small, egg-shaped fruit have brown skin and bright green flesh with small, black seeds.

Kiwifruit are soft with a sweet, unique taste. They can be eaten alone or mixed with other ingredients as part of many different types of tropical recipes.

Many people eat kiwifruit for their variety of health benefits. Kiwifruit are good sources of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin A and fiber. Their skin contains antioxidants, and their seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Today, kiwifruit are grown commercially in many different countries, including Italy, Chile, Greece, France and New Zealand. Speaking of New Zealand, that brings us to another type of kiwi.

Did you know that people from New Zealand are often called Kiwis? The nickname started with New Zealand military units, but has become common with national sports teams and the population in general.

Are New Zealanders named after kiwifruit? Nope! The people of New Zealand — and kiwifruit — actually both take their names from the other type of kiwi: the flightless bird that is native to — and the national symbol of — New Zealand.

If you’re WONDERing how to keep these kiwis straight, most New Zealanders capitalize Kiwi when referring to people but not when referring to kiwi birds. Likewise, more than one New Zealander would be called Kiwis, while more than one flightless bird would be called kiwi.

Kiwi birds are flightless birds about the size of a chicken that are usually brown. Native to New Zealand, there are five species, several of which are endangered. Kiwi populations have been stabilized in New Zealand thanks to conservation efforts and protected reserves and national parks.

Kiwi birds tend to be shy and nocturnal. In the wild, they hunt at night to avoid predators. In areas where there are no predators, such as protected reserves, kiwi can be seen during the day, too.

Kiwi birds are the only birds with nostrils at the ends of their unusually-long beaks. It’s no surprise that they have a very keen sense of smell. They tend to eat insects, seeds, worms, fruit and small amphibians. With their long beaks and good sense of smell, they can find food underground that other creatures miss.

Female kiwi only lay one egg each season, but it’s a big one! Kiwi eggs can weigh up to one quarter the weight of the female, making them the biggest egg relative to its size of any bird in the world!

36 Join the Discussion

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    • What a great connection, Bryleigh! We think it’s cool that you already knew what a kiwi bird looked like! Way to go, Wonder Friend! :)

    • We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about different types of kiwi, Gabby! Thanks for sharing your guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder– we can’t wait to see you again! :)

  1. And although a kiwi is a bird, it is the closest thing that New Zealand had to a land based mammal in attributes and behavior. Only native mammal to NZ is a Bat!
    …and yes I am a Kiwi and ate a kiwi (AKA Chinese gooseberry or Zespri) for breakfast. ;)

    • Hi there, Luke, we are SO glad that you have learned so much about the kiwi today! We think you are doing a great job of WONDERing, and we’re glad that you’ve shared some more information with us, too! Thanks for being a great Wonder Friend! :)

    • We sure are glad you are no longer bored, Barbie Doll! We are happy that you’re having fun with all your Wonder Friends today! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your AWESOME comment, Faith! We are having a great time learning with our Wonder Friends today! Thank you for sharing the Wonder with your friends– we love meeting new people! Have a super day! :)

    • We are glad you enjoyed our kiwi Wonder, iluvpie123456789! We think it’s a great day to Wonder– maybe you can find some more information about kiwi birds with some research of your own! :)

  2. Hey Wonderopolis. My Class goes on here everyday!!! We love your site.. can you make one about static electricity?????? I know you get a lot of comments but I really hope you see this!

    ~JabJab & Mrs. Mae’s class

    • Wohoo, we’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about Kiwis with us today, Pumpkin Pie! We think your name is very appropriate as Halloween approaches…! :)

    • Hey there, rithik! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis today! What did you learn from our kiwi Wonder today? Have you ever tasted a kiwi fruit? Have a SUPER day! :)

    • That’s awesome news, Mahathi! Thanks for sharing your comment– we’re glad to Wonder together about one of your favorite birds! :)

  3. Wow. Weird how kiwis are people?!

    I didn’t know kiwi were birds and also a fruit.

    Why all of them the same name? Did scientists get lazy?

    • Hi Nate and Eddie! You guys are WONDERful and funny! We’re not sure if scientists got lazy or maybe the same name for different things just caught on in different countries! When you ask for a kiwi in Australia, they might point you towards a person, while an American would throw you the fruit! Thanks for WONDERing with us, friends! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Are all kiwi fruit?
  • Do people from New Zealand have a unique nickname?
  • What is the national symbol of New Zealand?

Wonder Gallery

Kiwi_shutterstock_84220885 (1)Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you like kiwi? And, to clarify, we’re talking about the fruit, not the people or the bird!

Grab a friend or family member and head to the store to get some kiwi and any other ingredients you might need to make one or more of the recipes below:

Still Wondering

Watch National Geographic Education’s Crittercam: New Zealand Sea Lions video to follow a New Zealand sea lion on a search for food off the coast of the remote Auckland Islands.

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will crack you up!

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