Polynesians only arrived in New Zealand between the years 1250 and 1300, so the country’s animals and birds evolved for a long time before humankind started having any kind of impact. The strange and unusual fauna you will find there are among the many reasons this island country is such a massively popular tourist destination.
Also known by its Māori names, korimako and makomako, the bellbird is often mistaken for the tui thanks to its melodic calls being very similar. These smaller birds are unique to New Zealand, have a green tinge to their feathers, and can be found in most of the country’s forested areas.
The Chevron Skink
This large species of lizards can only be found on the Little and Great Barrier Islands and are so secretive that there have only been roughly 500 recorded sightings throughout history!
These little guys are unfortunately on the Critically Endangered list, with only about 300 remaining on Stephen’s Island, located at the northernmost tip of the Marlborough Sounds. They are closely managed by the Department of Conservation and are quite rare, but you never know. You could be lucky.
And if you are interested in assisting these little creatures, you are welcome to donate money to their conservation. Perhaps you have some money to spare, or you have seen a big win from playing Bingo games in NZ? Any little bit helps.
This is the smallest dolphin species in the world and it was named after Sir James Hector, who first examined them. They are often spotted riding waves in the South Island and there are many pods in Akaroa Harbour, near Christchurch.
Keas are the world’s only alpine parrots and are commonly found in the Arthur’s Pass and Fiordland National Parks. You could, however, also possibly see them in any of the South Island’s alpine environments, but beware! These cheeky birds have a penchant for dismantling automobiles!
The Kiwi Bird
Despite being New Zealand’s sweetheart, kiwi birds aren’t actually that easy to spot. They’re quite elusive and nocturnal and prefer forested areas
The Lesser Short-Tailed Bat
Pekapeka-tou-poto in Māori, lesser short-tailed bats are the only native land mammals in New Zealand. They inhabit forests from sea level to tree line at about 1 100 metres mostly in the country’s central regions.
Tuataras are the only surviving reptile species from the Dinosaur era, and they have been nicknamed accordingly. These living dinosaurs have a third eye on the top of their heads and they can be seen at a number of conservation centres around New Zealand.
Although tui are a common New Zealand bird species, you can only find them here. You are likely to hear them before you see them, so listen out for unusual, robotic-sounding calls. They’re covered in blue-streaked black plumage with two white feathers below their necks and call most native forested areas in this country home.