New Zealand - The
Flora and Fauna
In terms of its wildlife, visiting New
Zealand is the next best thing to visiting another planet.
With 80 million years of isolation, high percentages of New Zealand's
plant, bird, animal and reptilian species are found nowhere else on
One of the last places to be settled by man
(about 1,000 years ago), the changes since then have been fairly
devastating. The first
casualties were New Zealand's larger bird species, including all 11
species of the giant flightless moa. While ongoing habitat loss is
still a serious problem, introduced weeds and animal pests are now the
biggest threat. Introduced pests include possums, stoats, feral
cats, rats, deer and goats.
The only surviving member of the endemic New Zealand wattlebirds (Callaeidae)
family still living on the mainland.
The Giant Weta
There are more than more than 100 different species of Weta, all of them
endemic to New Zealand. They have hardly changed in190
New Zealand's national icon. It cannot fly, has loose,
hair-like feathers and long whiskers. Largely nocturnal, it burrows in
the ground, is the only bird known to have nostrils at the end of its
bill and literally sniffs out food.
The New Zealand Fur Seal
This seal dives deeper and longer than any other fur seal. It
is found throughout New Zealand, western and southern Australia and is
fully protected from man (although not from sharks and killer whales.)