Identifying lizards

Find out what lizard species you are likely to find in New Zealand's main urban centers, and how to identify them.

Gecko or skink?

There are two kinds of lizard in New Zealand – geckos and skinks. Geckos have broad heads with large bulging eyes, definite necks, and soft, velvety-looking skin which is covered in very small, granular scales. Skinks are more slender with narrow heads and small eyes, a narrow neck which is nearly as wide as the head, and have smooth, shiny, fish-like scales on the surface of the skin.

Skink, Sinbad Valley, Fiordland National Park. Photo: Rod Morris.
Sinbad Skink, Fiordland National Park 

Lizard species commonly found in urban areas

There are 99 recognised lizard species found in New Zealand. It would be difficult to provide information here about identifying them all. However, a few species are commonly seen in urban areas, even in people's gardens.

View a photo gallery of commonly found lizards

Copper skink.
Copper skink

Whangarei

  • Auckland green gecko
  • Copper skink
  • Ornate skink
  • Forest gecko
  • Pacific gecko

Auckland

  • Ornate skink
  • Copper skink
  • Auckland green gecko
  • Forest gecko

Gisborne

  • Copper skink
  • Ornate skink
  • Common skink
  • Common gecko

Wanganui

  • Common skink
  • Brown skink
  • Common gecko

Napier

  • Common skink
  • Spotted skink

Wellington

  • Common skink
  • Ornate skink
  • Common gecko
  • Forest gecko
  • Wellington green gecko
  • Brown skink
  • Copper skink

Nelson

  • Common skink

Hokitika

  • Speckled skink

Christchurch

  • Common skink
  • McCann's skink
  • Spotted skink
  • Common gecko

Dunedin

  • Common skink
  • Jewelled gecko
  • "Otago large" gecko

Invercargill

  • Common skink

Related links

 

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Contacts

DOC's 24 hour emergency hotline:

0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

Call to report sick or injured wildlife, and whale or dolphin strandings.