Woodworthia "Otago/Southland large"

Kōrero gecko

Woodworthia "Otago/Southland large"

Kōrero geckos (Otago). <a href="https://www.instagram.com/samuelpurdiewildlife/">© Samuel Purdie</a>
Image attribution
Kōrero geckos (Otago). © Samuel Purdie
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
At Risk - Declining
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus maculatus
Common names
Kōrero gecko,
Otago large gecko.

Length: SVL up to 95mm, with the tail being longer than the body length

Weight: unknown


A beautiful and robust species of Woodworthia with a snout-vent-length (SVL) up to 95 mm. Kōrero geckos typically have a brown or grey dorsal surface with blotches, chevrons, or longitudinal stripes. The lower surfaces of the mouth and tongue are pink; the tongue tip is often a diffuse grey. The rostral scale contacts (or nearly) contacts the nostrils. 

Life expectancy

Potentially over 35 years.


Found throughout much of Otago, including the Dunstan Mountains, Dansey’s Pass, Kakanui Mountains, Horse Range, and Rock and Pillar Range, and Southland (including islands in Foveaux Straight).

Ecology and habitat

Kōrero geckos are terrestrial/arboreal and inhabit beech forest, podocarp/hardwood forests, rocky grasslands, and rocky alpine areas up to 1300 m (Jewell 2008) Often forms large aggregations in retreats when populations are dense. Individuals may vocalize with a chittering sound (hence their colloquial name). Kōrero geckos are recognised as a nocturnal species but exhibit a range of diurnal behaviours including basking in partial concealment, overt basking, and specific postural adjustments (Gibson et al. 2015; Gibson 2013). This is most likely to aid in thermoregulation and, in pregnant females, may result in a decreased gestation period (Gibson et al. 2015).

Social structure

A highly gregarious species that can sometimes be found in astounding densities. They can engage in antagonistic conspecific behaviour, however, typically live in large aggregations and are thus, tolerant of one another.

Breeding biology

Viviparous. Gestation approximately 14 months. Mating typically occurs in February and females store sperm over winter. Vitellogenesis (yolk deposition) typically occurs from midsummer to autumn and ovulation occurs the following spring. Embryos become fully developed by early autumn (Rock and Cree 2008; Rock 2006). In high-altitude populations, females typically breed biennially and produce up to two young in November. In lowland populations, females typically breed annually and produce up to two young in early February (van Winkel et al. 2018; Chapple 2016; Jewell 2008; Cree et al. 2003; Cree and Guillette. 2003).


Predominantly insectivorous, however, will also consume fruit and nectar sources. 


Kōrero geckos are a known host for the ectoparasitic mite Neotrombicula naultini, as well as an endoparasitic nematode in the Skrjabinodon genus.

Conservation strategy

This species is not currently being managed by the Department of Conservation. However, in the event land is developed/destroyed, mitigation is undertaken, whereby geckos are salvaged and relocated to appropriate habitat. 

Interesting notes

The kōrero gecko gets its common name from the reo word meaning 'to talk or to speak' given the vocal nature of the species. The TAG name references its distribution in the southern South Island, and its large size in comparison to many other Woodworthia found in the region.

Kōrero geckos are members of the 'common gecko' complex, a group of closely related species which are regionally distributed throughout New Zealand. Historically, most of these were considered a single highly-variable species - Hoplodactylus maculatus (the so called 'common gecko'). The 'common gecko' has now been separated into over ten different species.

The kōrero gecko, along with its sister taxa (the mountain beech and Raggedy Range geckos) sit within the Southern clade of the Woodworthia complex, with the Southern Alps gecko and greywacke gecko being their closest relatives within the group.


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