NZHS and herpetology

About the NZHS

The New Zealand Herpetological Society Incorporated (NZHS) was created in 1969 by members of the public with a shared interest in NZ and exotic herpetofauna. The objectives of the society are:

  • To promote awareness & interest in amphibians and reptiles and their conservation;
  • To encourage the study of New Zealand's own species;
  • To encourage the captive keeping and breeding of New Zealand herpetofauna;
  • To supply information and support to members holding such exotic reptiles and amphibians as may be legally kept in New Zealand.

The Society endeavors to cater for all levels of interest in herpetology, from the school pupil who finds that lizards and frogs make interesting pets, to the person engaged in serious scientific study or captive breeding programmes. The majority of members keep
and breed native geckos and skinks in captivity, or are engaged in the field study of these animals. Other members have an interest in keeping exotic species such as tortoises, terrapins, frogs and axolotls.

New Zealand’s reptiles and amphibians are unique in many ways; sadly a high proportion are now endangered. Therefore, there is a need for a strong body of people dedicated to ensuring the continued survival of this important but little known group of animals.
Specialist groups, such as the NZHS, have a vital role to play in providing observations and data required to complement and support the activities of larger conservation organisations.

Click here to view our constitution.

What is herpetology?

Herpetology is the study of amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians) and reptiles (lizards, tuatara, crocodilians, turtles, tortoises, and snakes). ‘Herpetos’ is a Greek word meaning creeping. A herpetologist is a scientist or hobbyist who studies
amphibians and reptiles.

Why is NZ’s herpetofauna so unique?

New Zealand is well know for it’s unique biodiversity. Due to a long history of geographic isolation New Zealand flora and fauna exhibit high levels of specialisation and endemism (being unique to a defined location). Our reptiles and amphibians are a great example of these features, exhibiting typical characteristics of many NZ species such as prolonged life histories, late sexual reproduction and low rates of reproduction. Our native herpetofauna inhabit almost all terrestrial habitats with a number of species being extraordinarily well adapted to life in cold climates. All species of gecko and all but one species of skink in New Zealand are viviparous (giving birth to live young), a feature which is unusual with only 19 % of lizards worldwide being ovoviviparous.

New Zealand hosts a number of remarkable species which cannot be found anywhere elsein the world, such as the archaic tuatara (Sphenodon sp.) and the ancient and primitive frog family of Leiopelmatidae. Another notable characteristic of New Zealand’s herpetofauna is the absence of land snakes and turtles, salamanders and crocodiles.

We are passionate about promoting the conservation of New Zealand’s herpetofauna, to read more about the conservation status of our native herpetofauna, and the conservation efforts of our members.