Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos

Image attribution: Waitaha gecko (Woodworthia cf. brunnea). © Nick Harker


Woodworthia (the ‘common geckos’) are small to medium sized nocturnal geckos. Rostral scale does not extend to nostrils, or rarely in very narrow contact. Snout to ear distance ≥ eye to ear distance. Toes have expanded pads. Most Woodworthia are terrestrial (rather than arboreal / tree climbing), and inhabit coastal scrub, boulder and scree deposits to rock crevices and alpine bluffs. They are tolerant of conspecifics and other lizard species and have been observed in small to large aggregations, including with other gecko species and skinks.

Recent taxonomy suggests that most captive animals are likely to be hybrids, mostly of Raukawa geckos and Canterbury geckos. Aside from these two species, there is very little known about the ecology and behaviour of the other Woodworthia geckos. It is recommended that captive Woodworthia of known origin are not mixed with other Woodworthia from different locations or unknown origin.

We have separate specific pages for the following species: Woodworthia brunnea, Woodworthia chrysosiretica, and Woodworthia maculata.

Woodworthia distribution


























The following 'compare and contrast' table has been collated using information from Jewel (2011).


Species Colouration / description Region / habitat Mouth Eyes Feet Size
Raukawa / common gecko (W. maculata) Dorsal (upper) surface largely grey or brown with irregular markings, including black, white, yellow/orange, and olive green patches. Marking are usually transverse, however, longitudinal markings can be found in some specimens or common in some populations. A canthal stripe may or may not be present. North Island east coast. Generally coastal. Mouth lining pink, tongue pink with grey tip. Brown, can be yellowish or greenish brown. Toes have 9-12 lamellae. <82mm SVL, usually smaller.
Waitaha gecko / brown gecko / Canterbury gecko (W. brunnea)

Dorsal (upper) surface brown, though some individuals are grey or olive. Dorsal surface marked with bright chevron stripes, blotches, lateral or longitudinal bands. Large dark patches are common, particularly on the tail (if intact). Ventral (lower) surface commonly pale and uniform in colour, with occasional individuals sporting a spotted belly.

Brown gecko have large greenish, brown, or bright yellow eyes.

South Island east coast, Banks Peninsula to southern Marlborough.

Duneland, low scrub and rock outcrops. Coastal and inland habitats.

The lower surfaces of the mouth and tongue is pink; the tongue tip is a diffuse grey. Light to dark olive brown, pupils sometimes have pale border. Toes have 9-12 lamellae. <80mm SVL.
Minimac gecko or Marlborough mini gecko / Kaikouras gecko (W. Marlborough mini) * Dorsal surface drab brown, grey or olive-grey with pale blotches, bands or stripes. Canthal stripe is straight and generally prominent.

North-east South Island.

Inhabits screes, rock outcrops, boulder beaches and scrubby vegetation. Coastal and inland habitats.

The lower surfaces of the mouth and tongue is pink


Toes have 9-12 lamellae. 45-65 mm SVL.
Kahurangi gecko or Mount Arthur gecko (W. 'Mount Arthur') Grey to dark grey to olive brown. Double row of paler blotches or single chevron shaped bands.


Inhabits screes, rock piles and creviced bluffs. Predominantly alpine.

Mouth lining pink, tongue pink- may have grey tip. Brown, may have olive mottling. Toes have 11-12 lamellae. 60-68 mm SVL.
Kaikouras gecko * Very similar to minimac gecko (placed within the minimac gecko species concept). Pale brown with pale blotches, bands or chevrons.

Inland sites of Eastern Marlborough to Kaikoura.

Inhabits screes, rock piles and scrubby vegetation.

Mouth: pink

Tongue: pink

Brown, may have olive mottling. Toes have 10-12 lamellae. 60-65 mm SVL.
Southern Alps gecko (W. 'Southern Alps') Generally grey and usually drab in appearance with paler bands or blotches (rarely stripes).

Inland sites from north Otago to southern Marlborough.

Inhabits screes, rock piles and scrubby vegetation. Very few records from beech and kanuka forest.

Mouth lining pink, tongue pink- may have grey tip. Greenish or brown. May have a bluish edge. Toes have 9-12 lamellae. 50-65 mm SVL.
Pygmy gecko (W. 'pygmy')

Very small gecko. Head short and deep.

Dorsal surface light olive-grey, often with many paler blotches. Often two rows of blotches or bands.

Rangitata mountains area.

Inhabits screes and rock piles, often in scrubby vegetation or grassland in lower alpine areas.

Mouth: pink

Tongue: pink

Brown with olive mottling. Toes have 7-8 lamellae. 38-44 mm SVL.
Kawarau gecko or Cromwell gecko (W. 'Cromwell') Grey, brown or olive with prominent pale blotches or bands. Occasionally may have stripes. Ventral surface often heavily speckled.

Cromwell area.

Inhabits schist rock formations and associated scrubby vegetation.

Mouth: pink

Tongue: pink with grey tip

Greenish brown to dark brown. May have greenish flecks. Toes have 9-12 lamellae. 48-78 mm SVL.
Central Otago or schist gecko (W. 'Central Otago') Brown / grey gecko with paler blotches, bands or stripes.

Ranges and lowland of central Otago.

Inhabits schist rock formations and associated scrubby vegetation.

Mouth lining pink, tongue pink with grey tip. Brown to bright yellow Toes have 9-11 lamellae. 53-71 mm SVL.
Short-toed gecko or southern mini gecko (W. 'Southern tmini gecko') Light olive to olive brown. Uniform colouration or with faint pale stripes. A relative of the Goldstripe gecko from the North Island.

Southern South Island.

Inhabits scree, boulder fields and rock crevices in subalpine and alpine areas.

Mouth lining pink, tongue pink with grey tip. Brown Toes have 10-13 lamellae. 48-60 mm SVL.
Korero gecko or Otago large gecko / Otago Southland gecko / Danseys Pass gecko** (W. 'Otago large')

Variable colouration, from light olive grey to dark brown.

Inhabits forest, rocky grassland and rocky alpine areas.

Southland to North Otago Mouth lining pink, tongue pink- may have grey tip. Brown, olive brown Toes have 8-12 lamellae. 73-85 mm SVL.

* The taxon previously referred to as the Kaikouras gecko is now placed within the Minimac gecko species concept, we have provided a separate description for the Kaikouras as populations differ slightly in appearance.

**Danseys Pass gecko name refers to a population of korero gecko in the Kakanui Mountains.

Note: dorsal = upper surface; ventral = lower surface; SVL = snout to vent length

For more information on common and scientific name changes refer to 'Standardised Common Names for New Zealand Reptiles'


  • Bell, T. (2014). Standardised common names for New Zealand geckos. BioGecko, 2.
  • Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers Ltd.