The 48 species of gecko in New Zealand are grouped into to seven genera. Genera are groupings of species who share similar characteristics.
New Zealand’s geckos’ genera are:
Duvaucel’s gecko (Hoplodactylus)
This gecko is the largest in New Zealand. There are two species within the genus.
Geckos in this group are mostly grey or grey-brown. They also have subtle mottled patterns and often white spots on their back.
Mainly active at night (nocturnal), these gecko live in lowland forests, flaxlands and coastal areas. This species is highly vulnerable to predation and disappeared from the mainland soon after the arrival of mammalian predators. They are now restricted to islands free from all mammalian predators.
The green geckos (Naultinus)
The green geckos are strikingly bright green, but sometimes are bright yellow or have shades of grey or brown. This striking colour is bright but provides excellent camouflage in their habitat. Adult males of some South Island species are grey or brown.
All species within the genus have slender toes and a blue or mauve colour inside their mouths. There are nine species within the genera.
These geckos are active during the day (diurnal). They are found in areas covered in plants and trees, like forests shrublands or alpine herbfields.
The forest geckos (Mokopiriraku)
Forest geckos can differ a lot in colour. Often they are grey-brown, olive or greenish with some individuals and species having brighter colours like yellow, orange or pink.
All species within the genus have slender toes and bright orange colours inside their mouths. There are 13 species within the genera.
This species group mostly live in forests, usually in the trees. But they can also live in shrublands or rocky areas. Some species seem to stay in alpine areas, where they can occur up to very high altitudes. These can be between 1,100 – 2,200 metres above sea level.
The striped geckos (Toropuku)
These slender geckos are golden brown with noticeable stripes that run the length of their body. Two species are within this genus.
Very little is known about where these species live. But we know that they live in dense forest, fernland, vineland and shrubland.
The Pacific geckos (Dactylocnemis)
These species are vary a lot in colour and pattern. But are generally brown, grey-brown or olive and have slender toes. There are six species within this grouping.
These geckos are only found in the North Island. They occupy a broad range of habitats from boulder beaches to lowland forests.
The grey/brown geckos (Woodworthia)
Often brown, grey-brown or olive, these species have many different colours and patterns and broad toes. There are 14 species within their genera.
A diverse group, these geckos occupy a wide range of habitats. Some stay in narrow habitats while others occupy very broad ranges. These can include from the coast up into the high alpine zone.
Harlequin gecko (Tukutuku)
The single species within this genus, the harlequin gecko (H. rakiurae), is often brightly coloured. It has a herringbone pattern across most of its body. It’s one of the most beautiful of New Zealand’s lizards.
This species is found in low shrublands and alpine herb fields. They can be active in the day or night when the weather is warm enough.