Deadly, Unique, And Native New Zealand Animals That All Kids Must Know

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 20, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
The most precious Yellow eyed penguin New Zealand
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

New Zealand is known to have unique biodiversity that encompasses a wide variety of animals that are only found here.

Before humans set their foot on the islands of New Zealand, its wildlife consisted of birds, reptiles, and amphibians only. The arrival of humans brought plenty of non-native species to these islands, making them one of the most uniquely inhabited places on Earth.

The fact that New Zealand accounts for the most diverse biome in the world is indeed something to boast about!

Different species of animals and flightless birds, such as the kiwi birds, kererus (wood pigeon), sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins, Maui dolphins, tuataras, and more, are native to the country of New Zealand.

The non-native species such as cats, ferrets, rats, and weasels, brought in by the humans, prey upon the native species. Due to this reason, many unusual and unique species are left in a Critically Endangered condition while several others such as Hodgen's waterhen, crested moa, Finsch's duck, and the North and South Island snipe have become extinct.

Today, efforts are being made to remove the invasive species for the conservation of endangered animals.

Keep reading to discover various facts about the animals of New Zealand! You can also check out other interesting animal facts like the amazing Atlantic Ocean’s animals, explore the great marine life and the fastest animals in the world that all kids should know!

The Most Typical Animals In New Zealand

Being the wildest and the most undisturbed locations on Earth, New Zealand's wildlife characterizes some of the most unusual species of the world. Before humans arrived, these islands were inhabited by birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

While most of these animals are typically found here, the flightless kiwi bird deserves a special mention. It is the national bird of New Zealand.

More than 20% of New Zealand's land is occupied by forests, national parks, and reserves such as Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu, and the sub-Antarctic islands. These are branded as World Heritage (Natural) Areas by UNESCO.

New Zealand has some amazing collections of over 70,000 plant, bird, and animal species, alongside flourishing marine life. It was essentially devoid of mammals except for marine mammals like whales, seals, and sea lions.

Since land mammals did not exist in these islands before humans arrived, the birds had no fear of being preyed upon. Their wings had no role to play as they did not have to fly and save themselves from predators.

This is the reason why flightless native birds such as kiwi, wekas, takahes, and kakapos are found here.

Some of the seabirds found here are albatross, blue ducks, Westland petrels, and penguins. Some other birds that aren't found anywhere else but in New Zealand are keas, tuis, and morepork owls.

However, when humans arrived on these islands, they brought in many land mammals. Soon, these non-native species became the predators, leaving many of New Zealand's endemic animals highly endangered and some even Extinct.

Some of the rarest reptiles that inhabit the islands of New Zealand are the tuatara, pepeketua (native frog), gecko, and skink. Being surrounded by water, New Zealand has exceptional marine life.

It consists of plenty of dolphins, true seals, New Zealand sea lions, and whales, among other things.

An exclusive invertebrate of New Zealand is the wetas that are recorded to have lived with the dinosaurs. The only two land mammals that are native to this country as well as Endangered, are the long-tailed bat and lesser short-tailed bat.

Unique New Zealand Animals

Being isolated from most of the world, the North and South Islands of New Zealand account for a plethora of unique animals that are exclusive to these islands. You would be surprised to discover the diversity of its wildlife ranging from flightless birds to the tuatara, the only living relative of dinosaurs.

Apart from the varied species of land animals and birds, the water surrounding these islands is home to many impressive marine mammals.

To begin with, the smallest species of dolphin, Hector's dolphin, inhabits the water surrounding the South Island. This dolphin got its name from Sir James Hector who was the first man to assess the specimen of dolphins.

Conserved in the Arthur's Pass and the Fiordland National Parks, the bird kea is the last species of alpine parrot found in the world. With only 300 living individuals, next in line is Hamilton's frog, which lives on Stephen's Island on the Cook Strait.

Unlike other frogs, Hamilton's frog does not croak. One of the rarest lizards inhabiting the Earth is the Chevron skink.

This skink is the longest lizard found living in New Zealand's Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier island. These lizards are so rare that only 500 sightings have been recorded so far.

Fur seals are found in abundance in New Zealand. They inhabit the coastlines of the South Island, the Catlins, and Kaikoura.

These seals migrate to the North Island in winter and are sometimes found wandering around human habitations. Of all New Zealand's native birds, the Tui bird has a weird robotic call.

It has black and blue plumage with two white-colored feathers under its neck that look like a neck bow. The tuatara, a kind of reptile also known as the living dinosaur has a third eye on its head.

It is conserved by many of New Zealand's conservation centers. Some other unique animals found in New Zealand are the Maui dolphins of North Island, tomtit, morepork, bellbird, and piwakawaka.

Weka endemic bird of New Zealand

New Zealand Native Animals

Essentially, most of the unique animals of the world are native to New Zealand. These islands are detached from the rest of the world by massive water bodies, leading to their uniqueness. Read on to discover the natives of this land.

The list of animals native to New Zealand would remain incomplete without the mention of the kiwi bird, the national animal of New Zealand. The kiwi is a flightless bird without a tail whose lifespan ranges between 25-50 years.

Its body is covered with yellow-brown hairy feathers with strong legs. New Zealand has five different species of kiwi.

They are actively being conserved to save them from extinction. Next is the New Zealand sea lion that initially inhabited the entire coastline of New Zealand, starting from the North Island to the southern islands.

However, a decreasing population trend has confined this animal to the southern regions of the archipelago. While female sea lions are in a lighter shade of white, the males are darker.

They have a lifespan of 25 years. The yellow-eyed penguins, also known as hoiho, have experienced a massive decrease in population due to human activities that posed major threats to their natural habitats. As the name suggests, these penguins have yellow eyes with a red bill and black and white feathery coats.

They can be spotted along the South Island and Stewart Island. They are quite shy and will probably run away if one tries to get close to them.

The name little blue penguin is self-explanatory. They are the smallest of the penguin species, having a height of 9.84 in (25 cm).

Usually seen at night, these penguins were initially found all over the country, which now, has been confined to the mainland harbors of Oamaru and Taiaroa Head. The conservation status of these penguins is also Critically Endangered.

New Zealand Poisonous Animals

New Zealand is almost free of poisonous or venomous animals. Although some animals are known to possess venom, coming in contact with them does not result in death if one receives proper treatment.

Venomous animals such as spiders, bees, and wasps inject poison by biting or stinging the skin. Eating the flesh of a grey side gilled sea slug, a marine creature, may be toxic as well.

Around 2,500 different species of harmless spiders are found in New Zealand. Only three species of spiders out of all the others can bite humans.

First, the katipo spider, native to New Zealand, is usually shy and tends to keep its distance from other animals or humans. Usually, the adult female tends to bite. The other two species of spiders, redback and white-tailed spiders have entered New Zealand from its neighbor, Australia.

The redback spider is not aggressive and likes staying in solitude. This spider hardly ever bites and even if it does, there's an anti-venom to treat the bite. The bite of a white-tailed spider is quite painful and can cause burning sensation, swelling, itchiness, and redness.

However, the bite is not fatal. Apart from this, bluebottle jellyfish, stingrays, spiny dogfish, and brown bullhead catfish are some of the most poisonous marine animals of New Zealand.

New Zealand Deadly Animals

There is a massive number of animals living in New Zealand but only a few of them are known to be dangerous. These deadly animals are generally shy and like to stay isolated.

You can protect yourself from these creatures by being aware of their presence and not provoking them. Mainly, spiders, a few sharks, bees, and wasps are capable of harming humans.

Few sharks such as the great white, basking shark, oceanic whitetip, and whale shark that inhabit the waters of New Zealand. Statistics show that no shark attacks took place for the past seven years while only 12 people have been killed in those attacks.

Some of the spiders such as the redneck, white-tailed spider, and katipo spider are poisonous. However, there are no records of death through their bites. Proper treatment including anti-venom injections is readily available to treat the bites.

Some of the marine creatures such as side gilled sea slug, jellyfish, and stingrays are poisonous to humans. Apart from these major threats, bees, mosquitoes, and wasps may sting humans, but they are not life-threatening.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for New Zealand animals, then why not take a look at animals in Hawaii or savanna animals facts pages?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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