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Native New Zealand Animals

Native New Zealand Animals and again we include animals, insects, fish, aquatic mamals, reptiles and plants under this heading, benefit greatly from the fact that New Zealand is comprised of many different landscapes, environments, and ecosystems existing alongside and close together.

There are today 52 important areas of protected native forest throughout New Zealand as a result of the Tasman Accord, signed in the late 1980's. Seen as a landmark event signaling cooperation between environmentalists and loggers, this accord not only protected the indigenous forest but also the habitat of endangered native birds such as the Kiwi, takahe and the kokako.

The approximate 18,000 native New Zealand species live and are usually found in the bush and nowhere else in the world! Among these species, are unique birds like the Kiwi and the weka, and also special insects like the giant weta and the giraffe weevil, the beach-dwelling Katipo spider and the relic and direct link to prehistoric times, the tuatara. These and many more are found only as Native New Zealand Animals.

The New Zealand rainforests of are a holdover from prehistoric times when rainforests covered the continents. They provide access to valuable information from earth's distant past .

About 1000 years ago when the first polynesians arrived in New Zealand they found the two islands almost completely covered by dense rainforest. Just as in other early settlements these pioneers began clearing and burning the forests and tussock grasslands in order to grow crops and to more easily hunt the moa.

The European wave of settlers arriving in the late nineteenth century cleared vast areas of forest to graze their traditional sheep and cattle and to grow their crops. Less than one sixth of New Zealand is covered by forest today and the remaining kauri rainforest, with recognised kauri ancestors from about 250 million years ago, is now under protection. Providing us clues about the evolution of animals and plants in today's rainforests these kauri forests are particularly important as their ancient ties also indicate the conditions existing on earth millions of years ago.

There are a number of New Zealand national parks, scenic reserves, wildlife refuges and sanctuaries making up a network established to protect the remaining native forests and their wildlife, the Native New Zealand Animals.

These large tracts of lush native bush continue to support an incredible variety of bird life. As they had no natural predators to fly away from, wings became unnecessary for some birds. So as they evolved, several of New Zealand’s native birds became flightless including: the Kiwi, the weka, the takahe, the kakapo parrot and the world’s largest bird, the (extinct) moa.

Man - the Introduced Predator

As Maori and Europeans, Pakehas as the Maori call them, settled New Zealand, they hunted the birds and introduced other predators, in addition to themselves, including rats and stoats. This, plus the loss of habitat, led to the extinction of a number of birds including the moa and huia. The kakapo, the Kiwi, the takahe and others, became endangered.

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