Ngāekeoke / Peripatus

Conservation Status: At risk to not threatened (species dependent)

Also known as a velvet worm, these creatures are also living fossils, having changed little over the last 500 million years. Entomologists label it as the ‘missing link’ between worms and insects, though they are still unique enough to belong to their own phylum called Onychophora.  Five species have been discovered in New Zealand but scientists believe there may be up to 30; their reclusive behaviour makes them little understood.

Peripatus have been spotted in the Pūkaha forest in shady and damp areas so they don’t dry out (their skin consists of permanently open pores so they need the damp).

Tuwhaipapa / Giraffe Weevil

Lasiorhynchus barbicornis 
Conservation Status: Not threatened

Bizarrely, New Zealand’s giraffe weevil is actually our longest beetle, at 70mm (males), and is endemic to Aotearoa.

Females have a short probe for drilling into bark (where she then lays her eggs) while the male has an exceptionally long ‘neck’ or rostrum.

These insects can be seen all over Pūkaha; play close attention to small holes in the trees and watch for slight movement. Eggs are laid between October-March.

Wētā Pūtangatanga / Tree Wētā

Conservation Status: Not threatened

New Zealand’s most commonly found wētā, these insects grow to around 4-6cm in length and are nocturnal. As their name implies, tree wētā live in trees, forming harems in the holes left by other insects (particularly the pūriri moth).

Look out for these wētā at Pūkaha in our new Te Wāhi Wētā area.


Photo: Alan Cressler. Supplied by the Department of Conservation.

Wētā Tokoriro / Cave Wētā  

Conservation Status: –

 Lovers of all things damp, these wētā can be found nationwide in everything from caves to rotting logs, attics and the empty burrows of petrels. There are roughly 60 species of cave wētā.

They are nocturnal, requiring darkness to hunt, and during the day can often be found hanging head down from the ceiling of their chosen habitat.

They cannot hear, instead feel vibrations through their legs, and have even been known to jump 3 meters! 

These wētā can be found throughout Pūkaha, especially around our glow worm cave. The best time to spot the is during our Night Tour, especially when it is very dark or rainy.