Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos

Image attribution: Tautuku gecko (Mokopirirakau "southern forest"). © Nick Harker



Below is a table compiled in order to more easily compare and contrast features of the various Mokopirirakau species.

Species Colouration / description Region / Habitat Mouth Eyes Feet Size
Forest gecko (M. granulatus) Dorsal surface ranging from dark brown/reddish brown to pale grey. The dorsal surface sports a series of black and white irregular transverse blotches. The head usually has a dark, thin, V shaped mark on the head between the eyes. The belly is heavily botched. Forest gecko can rapidly change their shade of grey/brown/green to enhance their camouflage with the background. (a dark brown animal taken from the leaf litter may become significantly paler, and grey, when placed on a pale branch).

Northern North Island (excluding Aupouri Peninsula). The species also occurs through the North-western South Island from Nelson Marlborough to Okarito.

Inhabits forest and shrubland.

Lining yellow to orange, tongue pink. Mouth is edged prominently with white scales. Grey, olive green, or brown. Sometimes have a blue sheen. Soles yellow, toes have slightly expanded pads with 11-14 lamellae. Toes of northern animals are slightly shorter and broader than those from the South Island. <89mm SVL. Tail longer than SVL.
Ngahere gecko (M. ‘Southern North Island forest gecko)

Dorsal surface light grey to dark brown with transverse row of V or W shaped blotches on either side of the spine, often intermingled with bright yellow patches. White stripe between ear and eye and V shaped mark behind eyes Ventral surface lighter with speckles/mottling.

Similar to forest gecko but typically more robust in build, dorsal markings often less prominent and more commonly divided across spine

Southern and southeastern North Island from Wellington uncertain limits to distribution around southern Lake Taupo and inland Taranaki. Inhabits forest and shrubland. Lining of mouth and tongue bright orange. Grey, brown, or olive. 9-10 lamallae. <85mm SVL. Tail longer than SVL.
Black-eyed (M. kahutarae) Dorsal surface grey to olive grey with 6 (or rarely 7) pale chevron shaped patches across the back and tail. Ventral surface are uniform in colour (very pale or white). Nelson-Marlborough and western Kaikoura. An alpine gecko, inhabiting rock bluffs and outcrops between 1200 and 2200 m asl Lining and tongue pink or orange. Large black eyes, prominent ridges above eyes. Long toes with enlarged pads. <91 SVL. Tail equal or longer than SVL.
Takitimu - M. cryptozoicus (also. Takitimus gecko) Dorsal surfaces are grey to dark brown with bright pale herringbone patches and narrow stripes. Some individuals sport two tone orange or red spots (or very rarely the entire animal being orange). Ventral surface speckled/mottled. South Fiordland to western Otago. Inhabits lowland rainforest to alpine screes, rock outcrops and crevices. Lining of mouth bright orange. Pink or dark grey tongue, sometimes with orange colouration on tip or sides. Pinkish/brown with a black outline to the iris Toe pads very narrow, 7-12 straight lamallae. <87mm SVL. Tail shorter than SVL.
Broad-cheeked gecko - M. ‘Okarito’ (also. Okarito forest gecko/Okarito gecko) Dorsal surface grey to brown with W or H shaped bands. Occasionally pale orange or yellow shading. Ventral surface lightly speckled/mottled. Westland, from Okarito Lagoon to Haast. Occurs in rainforest and possibly subalpine scrub. Mouth and tongue bright orange. Brown   75 – 85 mm SVL.
Open Bay Islands gecko - M. ‘Open Bay Islands’

Dorsal surface light brown to olive –grey. Pale stripes or chevron markings are often poorly defined.

Tail equal or shorter than SVL.

Known from Open Bay Island / Taumaka Island, South Westland.

Mouth and tongue bright orange. Brown-grey   60 – 70 mm SVL
Cascade gecko – M. ‘Cascades’ (also. Cascades forest gecko) Dorsal surface grey to brown with W or H shaped bands or chevrons that may be drab or bright. Occasionally mustard yellow or orange-red blotches or shadings, especially across the nape. Northern Fiordland and south Westland. Occurs in alpine and sub-alpine rock bluffs, deep crevices and rocky shrublands. May also inhabit forest. Mouth and tongue bright orange. Brown-grey   63 – 85 mm SVL
Orange-spotted gecko - M. ‘Roys Peak' (also. Roys Peak gecko) Dorsal surface grey to brown or dark pinkish brown. Bands, blotches, chevrons and stripes are drab or bright, and often overlaid with orange or yellow spots or blotches, especially around the neck. Individuals recorded to undergo dramatic colour change in minutes. Central Otago. Occurs in alpine zone among boulder piles and rock outcrops. Recorded from Roys peak. Mouth and tongue bright orange. Brown-olive or pinkish   70 – 95 mm SVL
Blue-eyed gecko – M. 'southern forest' (also Southern forest gecko, Tautuku gecko) Dorsal surface dark brown-grey or creamy yellow. Bands or blotches typically W or H shaped, the margins of which may be black or fade to creamy yellow. May have reddish flecks or spots. Lower surface speckled or mottled. Southern South Island: Occurs in rainforest and scrub, at canopy and ground level. Mouth and tongue bright orange. Usually grey brown. Some individuals bright sky blue.   68 – 83 mm SVL
Cloudy (M. nebulosus) Very similar in pattern and colour to the forest gecko (M.granulatus); however, there is usually more green and brown rather than grey, and the pattern is less distinct. The area of the belly is finely speckled. Individuals may undergo minor colour changes. Throat pattern is distinctly mottled. Stewart Island and outliers. Inhabits scrub, typically in cold, wet and exposed areas. Both terrestrial and arboreal. Lining of mouth bright orange, tongue orange with a dark grey patch. Snout more rounded. Large and prominent.   <96mm SVL. Tail usually ≥SVL.
Cupola Basin gecko - M. ‘Cupola’ Very few recorded specimens, Similar to other forest geckos: grey-brown with darker or lighter W or V shaped bands or blotches. Cupola Basin        
upper surface
lower surface
snout to vent length
thin plate like structure, in geckos is used for traction on surfaces