For any wildlife enthusiasts or bird watchers, a trip to New Zealand can offer a completely one-off experience and the opportunity to see a myriad of exciting species that you won’t find anywhere else in the world!

The wildlife that you will find in New Zealand is very unique because of the country’s unusual evolutionary path.  New Zealand has existed in geographical isolation for about 80 million years meaning that a lot of the flora and fauna found there cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Some native species have become extinct or threatened because of mammals that were introduced by human settlers when they arrived in New Zealand bringing with them mammals such as rats, possums, ferrets, mice, cats and dogs.

There are many wildlife centres, reserves, zoos and sanctuaries throughout New Zealand where you can encounter many of the country’s native species  There are also opportunities to go whale watching, swim with dolphins, visit bird colonies and go on wildlife tours.

Here is our guide to the different types of wildlife to keep an eye out for during your trip to New Zealand.

Marine life

If you’re going whale watching in New Zealand’s waters then Sperm whales can be seen all year around.  Other whale species that can be spotted are Killer, Humpback and Pilot whales.  Types of dolphin that can be spotted are Common, Bottlenose, Dusky and Hector’s dolphins.  The Hector’s dolphin is the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.  The native New Zealand fur seal can be seen in abundance, you may also spot the Hooker’s sea-lion.  New Zealand is also home to three species of penguin, the world’s smallest penguin, the little blue penguin can be found in New Zealand along with the rarer yellow-eyed penguin.  One of the world’s rarest penguins is the Fiordland Crested Penguin which you may be lucky enough to see deep in the Fiordland or on Stewart Island in New Zealand.


New Zealand is known as the world Albatross capital.  With massive wingspans of over 3 metres the Albatross will typically spend about 80% of its live at sea so keep a look out for them around the coast!

The Kea is thought to be the world’s only alpine parrot and is quite a large common bird to see around the Southern Alps in New Zealand.  New Zealand is also known to be home to a number of flightless birds including the saddleback, the Takahe and the Kiwi  The Kiwi is New Zealand’s national icon and the people of New Zealand are named after the small, fluffy, flightless bird.  Kiwi birds are nocturnal and sleep for 20 hours a day, many towns have Kiwi houses where you can view the birds as they are sadly now endangered in the wild.

Land mammals

You may be surprised to learn that bats are the only native land mammals in New Zealand! There are three different species that you may encounter, the greater short-tailed bat which is thought may already be extinct, the lesser short-tailed bat and the long-tailed bat.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are seven frog species that can be found in New Zealand and about 60 – 70 species of lizard can be found there including the native Tuatara lizard.  The Tuatara is an unusual reptile that has existed since the age of dinosaurs and can only be found on off-shore New Zealand islands and protective wildlife sanctuaries.

It’s worth finding out about the wildlife of New Zealand before your trip as there’s a good chance that you’ll be spotting flora and fauna that you won’t see anywhere else in the world!  If you are going on a tour then your tour guide will be more than happy to point out the country’s unique creatures along the way  The people of New Zealand have a strong commitment to conservation and it’s easy to understand why in such an enchantingly diverse, rich and unique landscape.