Four new lizard species found in South Island mountain search

A new gecko species, Mt Alba, Mount Aspiring National Park. Photo: Samuel Purdie
A new gecko species, Mt Alba, Mount Aspiring National Park. Photo: Samuel Purdie
Four new species of lizards are believed to have been found during an intensive search of the South Island mountains this summer.

A gecko found at Nelson Lakes National Park. Photo: Ben Barr
A gecko found at Nelson Lakes National Park. Photo: Ben Barr
The search was conducted by the Department of Conservation in remote areas of Fiordland, Mount Aspiring, Nelson Lakes national parks, and the Hooker/Landsborough Wilderness Area on the West Coast.

Two new types of skinks and two new types of geckos were found.

The Department of Conservation Science Advisor and lizard survey project leader, Dr Jo Monks, said they were now waiting on the results of genetic testing, which would show if the lizards were new species or new populations of known species.

She said they appear to be different to known species.

"If they aren't new species, it means we have discovered populations of these lizards in places we didn't know they were, which is great news."

The DoC led-survey teams sent three days searching at each site, combing the ground, carefully lifting rocks, and spotlighting at night for geckos.

A skink found on Wick Mountain, Fiordland National Park Photo: Carey Knox, Wildland consultant
A skink found on Wick Mountain, Fiordland National Park Photo: Carey Knox, Wildland consultant
The main aim of the search was to learn more about lizards which there was not a lot of information on.

"These finds are very exciting and show there is much about our alpine lizards still be discovered," Monks said.

A skink discovered in Landsborough. Photo: Samuel Purdie
A skink discovered in Landsborough. Photo: Samuel Purdie
DoC said it welcomed reports of lizard sightings from the public, as it can lead to new findings. People can send photos of the lizards and the exact location to the department at: lizardresearch@doc.govt.nz.

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