Aquatic Life

Giant Kōkopu / Whitebait

Galaxias argenteus
Conservation Status: At risk, declining

Found only in the southern parts of the North Island, this beautiful green lizard is recognized by its barking distress call and yellow soled feet, the toes of which are lined by ‘setae’, tiny hairs that allow it to grip on a variety of surfaces including glass. They can live for around 45 years but habitat destruction has lead to the species’ decline. In Māori legend, geckos were part of Whiro’s army, the malevolent god who brought misfortune to earth.

Keen-eyed and patient visitors may spot this gecko at Pūkaha, where it has been sighted on several occasions running across the paths in summer.

Hauhau / Brown Mudfish

Neochanna apoda
Conservation Status: Vulnerable

These unassuming freshwater fish are known for their miraculous ability to live in harsh environments such as swamps, drains and even on land in times of drought. They are slender with small eyes, and can be found from Taranaki to the South Island.  They can be viewed in our Kiwi House.

Kōura / Freshwater Crayfish

Paranephrops planifrons
Conservation Status: At risk, declining

This North Island crustacean was once a vital part of Māori trade and a staple food item. They can be found in pastoral waterways and native forest but suffer from the effects of chemical pollution, increased floodwater flows and introduced predators such as trout.

Kōura can be regularly seen in Pūkaha’s river.

Tuna / Longfin Eel

Anguilla dieffenbachii
Conservation Status: At risk, declining

These fish have a spectacular life story and are endemic to New Zealand. Eels hatch in the sea around Tonga before floating as ‘elvers’ to New Zealand on ocean currents. Once in New Zealand, they migrate inland using freshwater waterways where they spend the majority of their lives living and feeding.

 Everyone has the chance to see these eels for themselves at Pūkaha, while at 1:30pm every day we offer an eel feed and talk to all general admission ticket holders. For the chance to have a go feeding these eels for yourselves, sign up to our Behind the Scenes tour.


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