Native animals

Wellington is home to amazing native animals – including birds, geckos and skinks, marine mammals, insects, and fish. Find out what we have and how we can protect it together.

In Wellington's skies and trees

Thanks to pest animal and weed control and restoration work, tui, kererū and kākā have become a regular sight and sound in Wellington.

Other special native birds such as the saddleback (tīeke), kākāriki and North Island robin (toutouwai) are now breeding outside sanctuary areas for the first time in over 100 years.

Wellington has a high diversity of lizards, with a number of skinks and geckos found in the city's forests or sunning on rocks.

Head to Ōtari-Wilton's Bush, Khandallah Park, or Wellington Botanic Garden for a good chance to spot them.

Along the coastline

Hiding in speargrass along the rugged Wellington south coast, you might spot the speargrass weevil beetle, horned with a black body and white stripes. Look for chew marks on the speargrass – it's their distinctive giveaway.

Keep an eye out for the geometrid moth as well – a striking orange, black and white moth.

The coast provides habitat for many seabirds, like the banded dotterel that nests in soil, shingle, or sand dunes.

The little penguin, or kororā, is another example. The “little blue” is the smallest penguin in the world. Adults come ashore in Wellington between May and June to prepare nests, laying eggs from August to November.

Wellington’s wild coast is also a spot for seal 'haul-outs'. You're most likely to see them at Red Rocks near Sinclair Head. Between May and October, male fur seals rest here between feeding, but don't get too close – these sometimes grumpy creatures like to have their personal space to themselves!

What lives in Wellington waters?

Scientists estimate that as much as 80% of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity can be found in the sea.

Wellington’s coastal waters are home to marine mammals such as the common dolphin and orca.

Wellington Harbour has special features including a giant kelp forest, a population of rare sponge, at least 100 different species of algae (seaweed), sea horses, crayfish and paua.

Wellington is also home to Taputeranga Marine Reserve on the south coast. The reserve is home to over 180 species of fish and is particularly rich in invertebrates such as octopus, crayfish, crabs and starfish.

Discovering nature

Remember to keep a safe distance between you and wildlife. Keep 20 metres away from all marine mammals and keep dogs on a leash and under control.

If you spot something special, record and share it in the iNaturalist app. Observe, share, and learn about your findings!

To find out more about our plants and animals in Wellington – what we had in the past, what we have now, and what we hope to have in future – check out Our Natural Capital – Wellington's Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan.