New Zealand Lizards

New Zealand has about 60 species of lizards, the largest lizard species diversity in a temperate region. Now nearly all are threatened, in low numbers, only found in isolated pockets or on predator free islands. Habitat loss and introduced pests such as cats are the primary causes. We have the highest number of cats per head of population in the world and what is believed to be the world's largest population of Mustelidae (stoats, ferrets etc). New Zealand lizards are found nowhere else (endemic), and having developed free of introduced predators need our help survive them.

Hoplodactylus delcourti lizard of New Zealand

Did you know geckos can't blink so clean their eye with their tongue, as seen above. Skinks do blink. Geckos have loose skin that is shed, skinks have tight shiny skin not shed. Most geckos and some skinks make a chirping noise, some chatter or croak. Skinks are generally carnivorous but eat the odd berry, geckos are omnivorous. Both geckos and skinks can shed their tails and both bask in the sun to raise their body temperature. Only one species of skink lays eggs. Geckos can climb vertical glass. A pregnant lizard is referred to as 'gravid' whether carrying eggs or live young.

Kawekaweau Aaron Matthew Bauer

New Zealand's kawekaweau gecko, Hoplodactylus delcourti, was the largest in the world at 600mm, and was last caught in 1870 by a Maori chief (in the Ureweras). An unlabeled specimen, the only one known to exist, was found in the Marseille Museum in 1986. The kawekaweau page is here.

The Sinbad Valley skink was only discovered in 2004. The striped skink has only been sighted 120 times in the wild. The Otago and grand skink are nearly extinct, see video below of these two.

For the official risk classification of each New Zealand lizard click here

Follow the links to large lizard photographs of each species

Names and information of species given in good faith...


Copper or Common SkinkTuatara
© Dr Paddy Ryan - Forest Gecko (stills animated NHC)
Common skink Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma
Tuatara Sphenodontia
Auckland green gecko lizard of New Zealand
Auckland green gecko - Naultinus e. elegans © NHC
Northland green gecko lizard of New Zealand
Northland green gecko - Naultinus grayii © Steve Reekie
3D? Auckland green gecko - Naultinus e. elegans © NHC
Pacific gecko lizard of New Zealand
Duvaucel's gecko - Hoplodactylus duvaucelii © Steve Reekie
Pacific gecko - Hoplodactylus pacificus © Steve Reekie
Forest gecko lizard of New Zealand
Otago Skink
Forest gecko - Hoplodactylus granulatus © Steve Reekie
Robust Skink
Otago skink - Oligosoma otagense © Dr Paddy Ryan
Goldstripe Gecko
Robust skink - Cyclodina alani © Dr Paddy Ryan
Marlborough Green Gecko
Goldstripe gecko - Hoplodactylus chrysosireticus © Dr Paddy Ryan
Rough Gecko
...Marlborough green gecko - Naultinus manukanus © Dr Paddy ....Ryan
Rough gecko - Naultinus rudis © Dr Paddy Ryan
Nelson Green Gecko
Sandy Bay Gecko
Nelson green gecko - Naultinus stellatus © Dr Paddy Ryan
Falla's Skink
Sandy bay gecko - Naultinus stellatus © Dr Paddy Ryan
Speckled Skink
Three kings skink - Oligosoma fallai © Dr Paddy Ryan
Spotted Skink
Speckled skink - Oligosoma infrapunctatum © Dr Paddy Ryan
Moko Skink
Spotted skink - Oligosoma lineoocellatum © Dr Paddy Ryan
shore skink
Moko skink - Oligosoma moco © Dr Paddy Ryan
jewelled gecko
Shore skink - Oligosoma smithi © NHC
Jewelled gecko - Naultinus gemmeus © Dr Paddy Ryan