Mokopirirakau kahutarae

Herpetofaunal category
Whitaker, 1985
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus kahutarae
Common names
Black-eyed gecko
Image to come
Image attribution
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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). Lining of mouth and tongue pink or orange. Large black eyes, prominent ridges above eyes. Long toes with enlarged pads.

Black eyed gecko reach SVL (snout-vent-lengths) of up to 91mm; tail equal or longer than SVL.

Black eyed gecko and Takitimu gecko have a similar appearance but can be distinguished by the following features: the tongue of Takitimu is predominantly pink or grey tongue, whereas blue eyed and orange spotted gecko have an orange tongue. The tail is shorter than SVL in Takitimu.

Click here for more information on how black eyed gecko differ in appearance from other species within the Mokopirirakau complex.

Life expectancy

Estimates for captive animals of the Mokopirirakau complex range from 20-30 years (D. Keall, personal communication, September 21, 2016).


Nelson-Marlborough and western Kaikoura. A full distribution map is available on the Mokopirirakau species complex page.

Ecology and habitat

Black eyed gecko are the only alpine lizard in NZ, existing in the alpine and subnival vegetation zones (up to 2200m), amongst rocks and outcrops with deep crevices. Black eyed gecko can forage in air temperatures as low as 6°C.

Social structure

Mokopirirakau species are generally solitary. Vocalisation among Mokopirirakau species can be described as chirrups or shrill squeals when stressed.

Breeding biology

Largely unknown.


Small arthropods.


Largely unknown.


Black eyed gecko are listed by DOC as 'nationally vulnerable'.

Interesting notes

The black eyed gecko was named after the Kahutara Saddle where it was originally discovered.


  • Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.
  • Hitchmough, R.A. (1997). A systematic review of the New Zealand Gekkonidae. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand.  
  • Hitchmough, R.A., Barr, B., Lettink, M., Monks, J., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J. (2016). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015; New Zealand threat classification series 17. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conservation.
  • Nielsen, S.V., Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T.R., Hitchmough, R.A., & Daugherty, C.H. (2011). New Zealand geckos (Diplodactylidae): cryptic diversity in a post-Gondwanan lineage with trans-Tasman affinities. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 59, 1–2.
  • Robb, J. (1980). New Zealand amphibians and reptiles in colour. Auckland: William Collins Publishers Ltd.
  • Robb, J. (1986). New Zealand amphibians and reptiles. Auckland: Collins.