Detailed species information from your search of the Atlas.
Scientific name:
Mokopirirakau kahutarae
Common name:
black-eyed gecko
Naming authority:
(Whitaker, 1985)
Bio status category:
Indigenous (Endemic)
IUCN threat status:
Lower Risk: near threatened
NZ threat classification:
Nationally Vulnerable

Refer to for NZ threat classification system details.

black-eyed gecko. Photo: Tony Jewell.
black-eyed gecko


  • Rock bluffs and associated rock outcrops with deep crevices in alpine areas about 1200-2200 m above sea level, in habitat commonly snow-bound for 3-5 months of the year.
  • Terrestrial.
  • Secretive, largely nocturnal but sun-basks at entrance to retreat.


  • Light to dark olive-grey with paler bands or chevron markings, and undersurface uniform grey.
  • Eyes totally black.
  • Mouth lining pink or orange, tongue pink to orange.
  • Measures 75-91 mm from snout tip to vent.
  • Tail equal or slightly longer than snout-vent length.


  • Mountainous areas of Nelson and Marlborough.
  • Recorded from Mount Arthur and the Inland and Seaward Kaikoura Ranges.
  • Distribution range overlaps that of forest gecko but isolated at higher altitude.
  • Southern distribution limit unknown.
  • The only alpine lizard in New Zealand, occurring up to 400 m higher than any other species.
  • Usually sparse, difficult to detect.


  • Moko-piri-rakau is the Maori name for forest gecko.
  • Named after the Kahutara Saddle where the type specimens were found.
  • Can forage at lower air temperatures than other lizards - as low as 6 degrees Celsius.
  • Notes about 2008-10 cycle of NZ threat classification for Reptiles (Hitchmough et al 2010): Range could be much larger than currently known.
  • Notes about 2012-14 cycle of NZ threat classification for Reptiles: (Hitchmough, et al.
  • 2012): New records from Kahurangi (extends known range and habitat) and the Clarence Reserve (within known range).
  • High altitude, large-bodied species, no evidence of decline based on resurvey of known sites, but inferred (conservatively) to be declining at 10% over 3 generations, which we estimated at 60 years.
  • Fewer than 15 known sub-populations.

Statistical information and distribution map

  Before 1988 Since 1988
Live Specimen 7 39
Dead Specimen 0 1
Total 7 40

  Live or dead specimen or shed skin
  Bone or fossil

black-eyed gecko Distribution Map.'
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