New Zealand, long story

For your reports/images, made outside Europe and the "Mediterranean" countries. Not to be too narrow minded and limited to our European/Mediterranean herps.

New Zealand, long story

Postby Sjuul Verhaegh » Sat May 23, 2015 11:12 am

Hi all,
First I want to warn you all, it became a quit story, so if you don't want to read, then don't and just watch the pictures :mrgreen:

My girlfriend started talking about a doing a thesis in New Zealand, so we started thinking about traveling through the country. I was ‘lucky’ they didn’t renew my contract at work, so I was free to go: during March and April we would travel around. Then I started to search for opportunities to do some herping. I found out that herping on the ‘mainland’ is very hard. A lot of species in New Zealand suffer from the introduction of all kind of mammalians. So there are only a few places left, or you should go to some of the pest-free islands. Furthermore the locations on the mainlands are well protected and most of them are kept secret.. So driving around, spot nice habitat, search and find a few species, that doesn’t work out. Thanks to Dave Boyle, who put me in touch with some researchers that should go to Stephens island in May. Stephens Island is home to 7 lizard species, 1 species of frog and about 40.000-50.000 Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), so that sounded like a dream to me! The Tuatara was absolutely my number one wanted species. Unfortunately I heard on the day of our arrival that the trip got cancelled because of money issues.. A real pity..
There are a few pest-free islands where they did introduced Tuatara, so that would be the way.

As there already are pictures on the forum of the great views, landscapes, birds and seamammels, I won’t bore you with that.

The first days we stayed around Whangarei, at the house of my girlfriend her family. Sometimes their cats bring in some gecko’s, including green ones (Naultinus sp.). I searched a lot for anything coldblooded but without success.

My first reptile that I found was a Rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata), an invasive skink from Australia. I found a few of them in some gardens around Orewa. They are expanding their spreading quite fast, for New Zealand terms they breed fast and have more offspring.

Image

Tiritiri Matangi was the first pest-free island we visited and also home to the Tuatara. Loads of birds but no reptiles.

The second pest-free island we visited was Somes island in the harbour of Wellington. 8 species of reptiles, include Tuatara, so we choose a sunny day and went for it.

After a severe biosecurity check (to check if you don’t bring any unwanted seeds, weeds or mammals) I found within a few minutes Spotted skink (Oligosoma lineoocellatum). These medium sized skinks where found all over the island, especially next to the trail.

Image

The next species was a Copper skink (Oligosoma aenea), which has a more secluded live. I did manage to find at least one individual.

Image

We also found some Northern grass skinks (Oligosoma polychroma). This species seems to be one of the most common species of the North island.

Image

After the skinks it was finally time for some real work. There was a guide showing around some little children but he probably saw me looking for lizards, so it was like: He guys, you wanna see a Tuatara? Uh… Yeah sure! So he showed us the burrow of a Tuatara, close to the trail and left us with the message: He probably will come out the sooner or the later. So we wait for about 20 minutes before I saw the head peaking out. Like Tuatara’s do, very slow, he came out, centimetre by centimetre..

Image

Image

After some more searching for green gecko’s it was time to leave again. Close to the harbour I found a small rock to flip, first flip, first gecko! Raukawa gecko, also known as the Common gecko (Woodworthia maculata). Some fast pictures, while the ferry was coming in.

Image

Image

The day after we went to Zealandia, a big sanctuary in Wellington, also known as the Kaori reserve. You can discuss about how wild some animals are over there. They released some Tuatara’s in a special Tuatara research area (fenced) but they also released some in the reserve. But it is nice to see different Tuatara’s in length, colour, pattern and size.

Image

After that it was a long time without herps. We also made the cross to the Southern Island. We did some searching but it just didn’t work out. Then we got close to a spot where Jewelled gecko’s (Naultinus gemmeus) should live. We stayed around for 3 nights, but on the day we should leave, they forecasted sun after 3 days of rain. So we rescheduled our travel plans, and it paid off! Jewelled gecko’s are a very popular species to poach and most of the time it are Germans that get caught with it.. I think they are still worth a few thousand euros in Germany? But I can imagine why they are so popular, they are quite easy to find. Within half an hour I found 4 of them, 2 striped forms and 2 jewelled forms. But because of the poaching al the well known areas are monitored quit good by rangers. You definitely don’t want to get caught with a gecko in your hand over there. So I made some in situ pictures and we left the scene.

Image

Image

Image

Image

At another place I got some help with searching lizards. This egret was helping me with the Southern grass skink (Oligosoma polychroma clade 5)

Image

Image

In the inlands I found some Southern alps geckos (Woodworthia ‘Southern Alps’).

Image

Image

In the same area I also found McCann’s skink (Oligosoma maccani).

Image

Habitat. The scree skink should also live here, sadly I missed on that one..

Image

After that we made the cross again to the Northern island. My girlfriend started her thesis and I had 3 weeks to fill. I teamed up with Trent a herpetologist who runs a business called EcoGecko consultants. I got involved in a project where they catch Ngahere gecko’s (Mokopiriraukau sylvestris) from a location that will get deforested for money making business, but the gecko’s will get a new nice home on Mana island.
One of the used methods is artificial covers, as the Ngahere geckos are arboreal it are just some foam covers nailed on a tree.

Image

Image

Image

One I had to make photographs of his dorsal for the individual recognition. The pattern of this one was amazing.

Image

For some work to prepare the translocation for the Ngahere gecko they had to go to Mana island, well known for the high abundance of reptiles, so I was glad to join.

The Raukawa geckos are very common over there. The first one we found was in the sink of the bunkhouse, after that we found many hunders..

Image

Image

In the afternoon we searched along the beach and found, Raukawa gecko, Northern grass skink, Copper skink and Spotted skink. This was their habitat.

Image

Later that day walked to a place for Duvaucel’s gecko, also came across a good spot for Goldstripe gecko’s (Woodworthia chrysosireticus), but my pictures turned out crap.. But the Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvauceli) made the day. Absolutly stunning species, the specimen we found was almost up to 30 cm. We took some measures for research and also took some bites, they are quite nasty..

Image

Image

In the same habitat we also found McGregor's skink (Oligosoma macgregori), very cool and quite big skinks.

Image

Image

During our stroll along the beach searching for gecko’s we also stumbled on this Blue penguin. Which other place in the world you could find penguins while searching for reptiles?

Image

The day after we should go back to shore, but the sea was to rough, so we got stuck and had to wait another night for the sea to calm down.

While flipping stuff for lizards I found this Giant weta. To compare the size a little bit, have a look at the geckos around it..

Image

As we had to stay another night I also had a chance to try and take better pictures of the Gold stripe gecko’s. I really like them, very nice looking and fun behaviour. They also jump quite wel, so sometimes when you think to have a nice shot, they suddenly jump away and disappear in the flex and they are so good camouflaged in that stuff.

Image

Image

Image

So I ended with 14 species in almost 3 months. Compared to other countries it isn’t that much.. But in the end I managed to see more species than I first thought. Especially the Tuatara was very cool. Hope you enjoyed.

1. Rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata)
2. Spotted skink (Oligosoma lineoocellatum)
3. Northern grass skink (Oligosoma polychroma)
4. Copper skink (Oligosoma aenea)
5. Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
6. Raukawa gecko (Woodworthia maculata)
7. Jewelled gecko’s (Naultinus gemmeus)
8. McCann’s skink (Oligosoma maccani).
9. Southern alps geckos (Woodworthia ‘Southern Alps’).
10. Southern grass skink (Oligosoma polychrome clade 5)
11. Ngahere gecko (Mokopiriraukau sylvestris)
12. Goldstripe gecko (Woodworthia chrysosireticus)
13. Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvauceli)
14. McGregor's skink (Oligosoma macgregori)
User avatar
Sjuul Verhaegh
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:56 pm
Hometown: Netherlands
country: Netherlands

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Niklas Ban » Sat May 23, 2015 11:22 am

My favorites are for sure the Sphenodon and the Naultinus! Great speciem. Yes, there is a big market (I saw prices up to 10000 euro) in Germany for Naultinus and it's a shame that there are still
some people who catch them to sell them.
User avatar
Niklas Ban
 
Posts: 634
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:30 pm
Location: Düsseldorf
Hometown: Duesseldorf
country: Germany

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby David Boyle » Sat May 23, 2015 1:35 pm

Excellent Sjuul, you did really well it would be really easy to go round New Zealand without seeing any herps at all - except maybe Rainbow Skink.

You were maybe looking on the wrong side of the road for Scree Skink...
David Boyle
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:49 am
Hometown: London
country: Britain

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby GertJan Verspui » Tue May 26, 2015 8:00 pm

Very nice Sjuul! Good photo's!
Amphibian & Reptile Adventures http://www.gertjanverspui.com
Instagram: @gj.verspui_wildlife
Facebook: Gerrit Jan Verspui
User avatar
GertJan Verspui
 
Posts: 445
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:27 am
Hometown: Giessenburg
country: Netherlands

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Bobby Bok » Tue May 26, 2015 9:38 pm

Fantastic Sjuul, must have been really magical to see Naultinus or tuataras in the wild!
User avatar
Bobby Bok
 
Posts: 954
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:11 pm
Hometown: Heemskerk
country: Netherlands

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Kevin Esser » Wed May 27, 2015 5:09 pm

Very cool report. Though no snakes... - that's New Zealand ;)

Espacially the Sphenodon punctatus and the Naultinus gemmeus are amazing!
It is a shame that some A**holes take these beautiful geckos out of their habitat to make money.
Kevin Esser
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:26 pm
Hometown: Wiesbaden
country: Germany

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed May 27, 2015 5:19 pm

Interesting species, regardless of the limited diversity. I wouldn't mind seeing some more landscape and other fauna/flora stuff ;)
Jeroen Speybroeck
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3160
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:18 am
Hometown: Merelbeke
country: Belgium

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Maarten Gilbert » Thu May 28, 2015 2:56 pm

Great observations! Herping can be hard in New Zealand, especially on the main islands. Nice that you got the opportunity to visit Mana Island. I've been there as well back in 2013, great to see some familiar sites. I really like those pest-free islands, as you can get a glimpse on how New Zealand used to be... Don't hesitate to post more :)
Maarten Gilbert
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:38 pm
Hometown: Driebergen
country: Netherlands

Re: New Zealand, long story

Postby Sjuul Verhaegh » Sat May 30, 2015 3:16 pm

Thanks all,
When I sorted out my 6000+ pictures, I will add some other pictures, but that could take a while.. :mrgreen:
User avatar
Sjuul Verhaegh
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:56 pm
Hometown: Netherlands
country: Netherlands


Return to Herping in the rest of the world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest