Tuatara, close up of head and shoulders, Stephens Island.  Photo: Peter Morrison


Tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles (adults ranging from about 300g to 1000g) found only in New Zealand.

They are the only extant members of the Order Sphenodontia, which was well represented by many species during the age of the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago. All species apart from the tuatara declined and eventually became extinct about 60 million years ago.

Tuatara are therefore of huge international interest to biologists and are also recognised internationally and within New Zealand as species in need of active conservation management.


DOC HOTline - 24 hour emergency number

Phone 0800 DOCHOTline (0800 362 468) to report:

Sick or injured wildlife
Whale or dolphin strandings