Photo: Brendon Doran
The Karori Sanctuary Experience

Reptiles & frogs

Tuatara / Tuatara

Tuatara

Photo By Brendon doran

Baby tuatara

Photo By Brendon doran

A reptile with distinctive soft spines down its backbone. Males can grow up to 60cm in length.

Known for being old – these ‘living fossils’ can live for over 100 years and date from dinosaur days!

Although they can make a croaking noise, tuatara mainly use body language to communicate.

Were extinct from the mainland since the late 1700s until they were released into Zealandia in 2005, with thanks to their kaitiaki (tribal guardians) Ngati Koata. A total of 200 have been transferred. Evidence of breeding was recorded in November 2007 and the first hatchling was spotted in March 2009 – an extremely significant breakthrough in the restoration of this species on the mainland.

The best place to see tuatara is the Research Area along Lake Road, where they will often bask in the sun on sunny days. They are more active at night, and are often seen on the Zealandia by Night tour.