7 Unusual Animals Tourists Didn’t Know You Could Encounter In New Zealand

Megan Zara Walsh Megan Zara Walsh

7 Unusual Animals Tourists Didn’t Know You Could Encounter In New Zealand

Animal lovers, this one is for you.

New Zealand is home to a fascinating array of exciting animals. And there are many in the wilderness that are purely unique to New Zealand, that many visitors didn’t even know existed, or believed lived in other regions. And because we love animal content, we’re about to give you a glimpse of some cute and terrifying rare animals that live in New Zealand. Check out 8 unique an unusual animals that you can encounter in the New Zealand wilderness.

1. Lesser Short Tailed Bat

Unique Animals
Photo Credit: Department Of Conservation

Expect to find this species of unique bat on the North Island in New Zealand. They are endangered, and can only be found in a few locations during the warmer months, being identified by their short tail, large pointed ears and 30cm wingspan. Interestingly, they are the surviving members of Mystacinidae family, and spend much of their time on the forest floor.

2. Hector’s Dolphin

Unique Animals New Zealand
Photo Credit: Akaroa Dolphins

Another endangered species, and the world’s smallest dolphins, which are unique to the shallow coasts of New Zealand. Particularly, you’ll find these cute creatures on the South Island, with Banks Peninsula and Akaroa Harbour, boasting the greatest population. They can be identified by their grey bodies with black and white markings, and their rounded black fin, that resembles Mickey Mouse ears. Known to come right up to fisherman, they are extremely friendly, so count yourself lucky if one takes a fancy to you!

3. Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Who would have thought yellow-eyed penguins exist? Well, this extremely rare bird species can be found in The Caitlins, where most of their population live. Known to swim up to 50km away from the coast, and dive below the seabed for food, they are a special find. With their population declining due to weather conditions, food shortages, and threats from predators, these little creatures need all the protection they can get.

4. Chevron Skink

According to the Department Of Conservation, these native creatures are New Zealand’s most secretive and rarest lizards. You’ll be lucky to spot them in damp places in the Hauraki Gulf, on both Great and Little Barrier islands. Identified by their long body and tail, with dark patters, they are one of the most unique and unusual animal encounters in New Zealand.


5. Hooker’s Sea Lion

These exclusive sea lions can be found on sandy beaches, in a few coastal islands, on both the North and South region of New Zealand. For example, one primary location is Dundas Island near Auckland. As a threatened and vulnerable species, they are protected under the 1997 Marine Mammals Protection Act. Although, their population is sadly declining for reasons unknown, perhaps, climate change.

6. Tuatara

These little guys may look like other lizards, but what is so unique about them is that they derive from a distinctive lineage of reptiles from the dinosaur era. Differently, their skin colour can change over a lifetime, and they are active in cold temperatures with one of the slowest reptile growth rates. You’ll find them on most islands on New Zealand’s North Island, such as areas in the Marlborough Sounds, which remain free from their predators.

7. Kiwi Bird

Deriving from an ancient group of flightless birds, would you believe many tourists don’t even know this special bird exists? As they are mostly nocturnal, you may only spot one roaming around at night in areas such as Kapiti  Island or Zealandia, off Wellington, and Stewart Island. As cute and cuddly as they look, they can be dangerous as pets due to their territorial behaviour and aggressive nature when provoked. Indeed, one of the most unusual animals native to New Zealand.

Enjoying Secret Wellington? Why not check out The Best Things To Do This Month In Wellington.

Wellness & Nature