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Facts about frogs

Maud Island frog on lichen, Maud Island. Photo copyright: Tui De Roy (DOC USE ONLY).
Maud Island frog on lichen, Maud Island

New Zealand's native frogs have several distinctive features, which make them very different from frogs elsewhere in the world:

  • They have no external eardrum.
  • They have round (not slit) eyes.
  • They don't croak regularly like most frogs.
  • They don't have a tadpole stage. The embryo develops inside an egg, and then hatches as an almost fully-formed frog. The young of most species are cared for by their parents - for example, the male Archey's frog may carry his young offspring around on his back.

Different species

New Zealand originally had seven species of native frog. Three species have become extinct since the arrival of humans and animal pests, like rats, in New Zealand. The four remaining species are:

  • Hochstetter's frog - the most widespread, it has been sighted around the upper half of the North Island, including at Waipu, Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel, central North Island, and the Raukumara Ranges. It grows up to 48mm long. It has partially webbed feet, more warts than the other frogs, and is generally dark brown.
  • Archey's frog - is found only in the Coromandel and in one site west of Te Kuiti. It is the smallest native frog, growing up to 37mm long. It lives in misty, moist areas around 400m in altitude.
  • Hamilton's frog - one of the world's most endangered frogs, it is found only on Stephens Island in the Cook Strait.
  • Maud Island frog - is only found on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds. Recently DOC transferred some Maud Island frogs to Motuara Island.

 Archey's frog. Photo: Dick Veitch.
Archey's frog 

There are also three introduced species of frog in New Zealand. These species are easily distinguished from native frogs because they have loud mating calls and pass through a tadpole stage.


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