Wildlife in New Zealand has an interesting history; the country did not have any natural predators. As a result, the wildlife evolved without needing to be fearful of them, which is why flightless birds like the Kiwi thrived in large numbers in New Zealand. Wildlife in New Zealand is truly unique and the species of animals found here are endemic to the region.
1. Kiwi Bird
The absence of predators allowed the birds to walk peacefully on the ground. The most famous of these and the national animal of New Zealand is the Kiwi bird. These flightless birds have also become the symbol of the country, to such an extent that New Zealand locals are known as Kiwis themselves.
These birds are nocturnal and can usually be found in heavily wooded areas but are rarely found in the wild. Kiwi conservatories can be found across the country and they present most visitors with the best chance of seeing these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat.
2. Lesser Short-tailed Bat
The lesser short-tailed bat is one of the most unique species of wildlife in New Zealand because it is the only native land mammal of the country. Known as the pekapeka, in Maori, they are endangered and can only be found in a few, select regions across the country.
3. Hector's Dolphin
One of the most intelligent species of animals to be found across the world, Hector's Dolphins are native to the waters that surround New Zealand. They are classified as the world's smallest subspecies of dolphins and can be found swimming in pods in the waters around Akaroa, where dolphin watching cruises are popular leisure activities amongst tourists.
4. Kea Bird
Known as the world's only species of alpine parrots, the kea bird is one of the most famous endemic species of wildlife in New Zealand. These curious and highly intelligent birds can be spotted at the regions around the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island. They are commonly seen flying around Arthur's Pass National Park and around the Aoraki National Park as well. These clever and mischievous birds are also known to be very social and inquisitive in nature, leading to many interactions between them and humans, sometimes even going as far to ripping parts from cars.
5. New Zealand Fur Seal
New Zealand fur seals were once hunted to near extinction by humans and were prized for their meat but have now been classified as a protected species and their dwindling numbers have begun to grow once again. These adorable seals are known to frequent the waters around Kaikoura and Fiordland National Park and are known to visit the coastal regions around the South Island.
Tuataras are famously known to be the last remaining reptile species that were found during the dinosaur era, earning them the moniker of being 'the last living dinosaur'. These ancient and super cool species also are known for the third eye that they have, which is located on the top of their skulls. Tuataras can be found in conservatories across New Zealand, where visitors can see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
7. Hamilton's Frog
These critically endangered frogs that are endemic species of wildlife in New Zealand can only be spotted on Stephen's Island and its numbers are closely watched and studied by the Department of Conservation.
8. Yellow-Eyed Penguins
The yellow-eyed penguins are one of six different species of penguins that can be found across New Zealand. They are primarily found around the south coast of New Zealand and are regularly spotted along the coasts of Stewart Island.
9. New Zealand Falcon
The New Zealand falcon is the only known bird of prey to exist in the country and they are endangered and are not commonly seen in the wild. Visitors will be able to see them in their natural habitats only in conservatories dedicated to keeping their numbers healthy.
10. Hooker's Sea Lion/New Zealand Sea Lion
These critically endangered sea lions are endemic species of wildlife in New Zealand and are amongst the rarest in the world. They can be found near the Otago Peninsula and towards the Catlins regions.
New Zealand is famous for having such a unique set of wildlife that is endemic to the region! Let us know in the comments below what your favourite species of wildlife in New Zealand is!