Herpetofaunal category
Cope, 1868
Common names
Waitaha gecko
Brown gecko
Canterbury gecko
Woodworthia brunnea
Image attribution
Lubomír Klátil


A small to medium sized gecko reaching SVL (snout-vent-length) of up to 80mm; tail length is usually the same as SVL. Dorsal (upper) surface brown, although 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. The lower surfaces of the mouth and tongue are pink, the tongue tip is a diffuse grey. The rostral scale contacts or virtually contacts the nostrils. Toes have 9-12 lamellae.

Individuals in dune habitats tend to be smaller compared to those inhabiting forests and bluffs.

Click here for more information about how brown gecko differ in appearance to other species within the Woodworthia complex.

Life expectancy

Can exceed 42 years.


Banks Peninsula north to southern Marlborough.

Ecology and habitat

Brown gecko are lowland generalists, inhabiting a range of habitats including: rocky outcrops, bluffs, rock tumbles, scrubby vegetation and duneland, living and dead forest trees. They are nocturnal, but will sun bask in protected positions exposing only part of their bodies at retreat entrances. The species exhibit high site fidelity with very small home ranges.

Social structure

They are tolerant of conspecifics, often forming aggregations of up to 12 animals.

Breeding biology

Brown gecko will have multiple mates. Females are ovoviviparous (give birth to live young), reproducing on an annual basis with a maximum litter size of two.


Nectar, fruit and invertebrates.


Brown gecko have been recorded with low levels of red mites in the wild.

Conservation status

DOC classify brown gecko as 'at risk'.


  • Freeman, A.B. (1994). An ecological study of the lizard fauna of Kaitorete Spit, Canterbury. Unpublished master's dissertation. Lincoln University: Lincoln, New Zealand.
  • Gill, B., & Whitaker, T. (2007). New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles. Auckland: David Bateman Limited.
  • Hitchmough, R.A. (1997). A systematic review of the New Zealand Gekkonidae. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Victoria University of Wellington: Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Hitchmough, R.A., Anderson, P., Barr, B., Monks, J., Lettink, M., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., & Whitaker, T. (2012). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, in New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. DOC: Wellington.
  • Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland.
  • McIvor, I.R. (1972). Ecology of a population of Hoplodactylus pacificus, the common New Zealand gecko (Reptilia : Gekkonidae). Unpublished master's dissertation. University of Canterbury: Christchurch, New Zealand.