New Zealand’s Unique Native Animals

You may know New Zealand as the ‘land of the long white cloud’, the home of Hobbiton and as a hotbed of Polynesian culture, but did you know that it also boasts its own collection of strange and unusual animals? From flightless birds through to prehistoric lizards, New Zealand native animals and birds that are certainly like no others!

New Zealand Native Animals


One of New Zealand’s most iconic species, the Kiwi is a flightless bird characterised by its hair-like plumage and long, thin bill. Mostly nocturnal, adult Kiwis often mate for life and have the largest egg to body weight ration of any bird, with each egg weighing in at approximately 15% of the female’s body weight. There are 5 different species of Kiwi in existence, with each differing slightly in size and colour.

New Zealand Native Animals: Kiwi in the Kauri Museum, kiwi
Kiwi in the Kauri Museum: Photo Hannes Grobe / CC-BY-SA-2.5


Said to be one of the world’s most intelligent birds, the Kea is a native parrot that calls the alpine regions of New Zealand’s South Island home. Nesting on the ground, the Kea faces challenges from other animals preying on its eggs and currently exists in numbers between 1,000 and 5,000 birds. The world’s online parrot, the Kea is a fascinating bird quite unlike any other in the world.

Side view of a Kea
Side view of a Kea. JSilver / CC BY 2.0


Thought to have become extinct prior to its rediscovery in 1948, the Takahe is an endangered species well known for its indigo feathers and bright red beak. Another of New Zealand’s flightless native birds, is much larger than some of its fellow avian species, growing to about the size of a large hen.

Takahe, New Zealand Bird
Takahe: Photo Harald Selke / CC-BY-SA-2.0


Yet another flightless bird, the Weka has made a name for itself as one of New Zealand’s cheekiest residents. Adorned in brown plumage, the Weka is renowned for its habit of collecting shiny objects and scavenging crops and unattended food, mainly eating invertebrates and food.

Western Weka
Western Weka: Photo Murray Dawson / CC-BY-SA-3.0


Growing to up to 1kg in size, the Tuatara is the only beak-headed reptile left in the world. Living for up to 100 years, the native reptile survived in the wild in New Zealand across 32 offshore islands that are generally free of rodents and other mammals that would ordinarily prey on their eggs and compete for food. The only surviving member of a prehistoric order of reptile, the Tuatara is a true relic of the past.

New Zealand Native Animals: Male Tuatara
Male Tuatara: Photo KeresH / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Interested in seeing some of these fascinating creatures? You can find zoos and nature parks across New Zealand, in cities such as Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, or try your luck in the spotting the New Zealand native animals in the wild.

2 Responses

  1. 9 Reasons to Choose New Zealand as a Destination | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] even the national symbol of New Zealand. You will also come across many indigenous forest trees and other animals you have not seen anywhere else. The country is unique, and your expectations should be, […]

  2. From flightless birds through to prehistoric lizards, New Zealand native animals… | Aviary, Zoo, Nature & Places with JC and David

    […] New Zealand Native Animals – Go4Travel BlogFrom flightless birds through to prehistoric lizards, the New Zealand native animals are certainly unique and like no others! […]


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