Does New Zealand have Kangaroos? Expert guide from a local (2024)

If you’re planning a holiday to New Zealand and wondering “Does New Zealand have Kangaroos?”, I’ve got you covered!

While kangaroos are a well-known symbol of Australia, they are not native to New Zealand. In fact, as a Kiwi myself who has lived in New Zealand most of my life I can confirm that there are no wild populations of kangaroos here.

So why is this the case? Let’s have a look.

Why are there no Kangaroos in New Zealand?

kangaroo bouncing across the road

So we’ve already established that New Zealand does not have any kangaroos but why is this?

Well, it all comes down to geography and evolution. Kangaroos are marsupials that have evolved specifically for the Australian continent. They are adapted for living in dry, arid climates and their unique physiology allows them to survive on limited resources.

On the other hand, New Zealand has a very different climate and landscape. It is predominantly made up of lush forests and mountains, with much higher levels of rainfall than Australia. This type of environment is more suitable for grazing animals such as deer and sheep.

What animals does New Zealand have?

kea bird flying in new zealand

Just because you won’t find kangaroos in New Zealand doesn’t mean there’s a lack of unique wildlife. In fact, New Zealand is known for its diverse range of birds and marine life.

In the wilderness, you’ll come across amazing creatures like the Kiwi, a flightless bird that represents the country’s unique fauna. Since they are nocturnal you have to be pretty lucky to spot one in the wild, I still haven’t come across one yet!

New Zealand’s marine biodiversity is truly remarkable, home to a diverse range of dolphin species beyond the popular bottlenose dolphins. One of the most distinctive species is the Hector’s dolphin, recognized by its rounded dorsal fin and small size.

Maui’s dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, are also native to NZ waters but sadly they’re considered critically endangered.

Adding to this rich biodiversity are the cheeky Kea parrots known for their intelligence and curiosity, and colonies of fur seals lounging along its rugged coastlines. But what truly sets New Zealand apart is its array of fascinating insects and birds, including the captivating glowworms found within Waitomo Caves and the large, nocturnal Kakapo parrot.

This enchanting wildlife roster forms an integral part of New Zealand’s allure, offering visitors unforgettable encounters with nature at its most pristine and extraordinary.

So while you may not see kangaroos hopping around in New Zealand, don’t let that discourage you from visiting this beautiful country. Its natural wonders and captivating wildlife will surely leave an impression on any traveller.

Does New Zealand have wallabies?


While we don’t have Kangaroos in New Zealand, there is another marsupial commonly found in Australia that has found its way across the ditch – wallabies.

These marsupials, distant cousins of the kangaroo, have made their home in pockets of the South Island such as Mackenzie Country and Waitaki Valley and Rotorua Lakes are in the North Island.

Back in the late 1800s, five species of wallabies were actually brought over from Australia to New Zealand. This was mainly for hunting purposes and since then they’ve adapted well to the New Zealand landscape.

Now, these Wallabies are actually considered pests here. Over time, their population has grown, and they’ve become a bit of a nuisance to the local ecosystem.

Why wallabies are an issue in New Zealand?

While New Zealand’s landscape is undeniably breathtaking, it faces a unique challenge – an escalating wallaby problem. These seemingly cute and harmless marsupials, originally hailing from Australia, have become a significant concern for the country’s biodiversity and agriculture.

Wallabies pose a severe threat to native flora, as they feed on a range of plant species, including shrubs and grasses. Their indiscriminate feeding habits lead to the loss of indigenous plants, altering the local ecosystem in ways that can be damaging to other species.

Furthermore, wallabies are also detrimental to New Zealand’s agricultural sector. They compete with livestock for food resources causing losses in pastoral productivity. Moreover, their population growth rate is alarmingly high due to lack of natural predators and suitable living conditions making them an increasingly challenging pest to control.

So while these creatures are undoubtedly intriguing from afar they remain a significant problem for New Zealand’s environment and economy. Conservationists are keeping a watchful eye on the situation to ensure the native flora and fauna remain protected.

Kangaroos Vs Wallabies

You might find yourself wondering, what is the difference between kangaroos and wallabies? While these Aussie natives might share a common ancestry and pouch-bearing lifestyle, they do have their differences.

Picture Kangaroos as the heavyweight champs of the marsupial world – these guys are the big players, known for their impressive size and powerful hind legs that propel them in those iconic hops.

On the other hand, Wallabies are like the more petite, agile cousins. They’re smaller, more compact, and often display a playful, bouncy demeanour.

Both are incredible in their own right, but with distinct features that set them apart.

FAQ: Does New Zealand have Kangaroos?

Why are Wallabies found in New Zealand?

Wallabies were introduced to New Zealand in the past and have established populations in certain areas. They are considered pests in some regions due to their impact on the environment.

Are there any other marsupials in New Zealand?

es, New Zealand has its own unique marsupials, such as the short-tailed bat and the brushtail possum.

Possums are also considered pests in New Zealand. They were introduced to the country in the 1800s for their fur, but without any natural predators, they quickly multiplied and wreaked havoc on native plants and wildlife.

Can I see Wallabies in the wild in New Zealand?

In some parts of New Zealand, particularly the South Island, you may encounter Wallabies in their natural habitat.

Does New Zealand have koalas?

No, New Zealand does not have koalas. This common misconception might stem from the fact that koalas are usually associated with Australia, which is geographically close to New Zealand.

However, these adorable marsupials are uniquely Australian and are found in the wild only on the eastern and southern coasts of the continent.

They depend heavily on eucalyptus trees for both habitat and nutrition, and this specific ecosystem doesn’t naturally exist in New Zealand.

What other unique wildlife can I encounter in New Zealand?

New Zealand is known for its diverse wildlife, including the kiwi bird, tuatara, Hector’s dolphin, and more. Exploring these native species can be a fascinating experience.

New Zealand is also known for its extensive range of birdlife.

Hop on a boat and take a tour around the remote islands to spot rare birds like the yellow-eyed penguin or visit conservation parks to learn about efforts to protect endangered species.

Does New Zealand have snakes?

While it may be hard to believe, New Zealand is one of the few places on Earth where snakes are not native! This snake-free status can be attributed to its isolation from other landmasses and specific biosecurity laws.

The country’s remote geographical location meant that snakes never naturally migrated there.

Additionally, the strict biosecurity laws of New Zealand prohibit the importation of snakes, maintaining its unique status as a snake-free land.

Conclusion: Does New Zealand have Kangaroos?

In the end, while kangaroos may be missing from New Zealand’s wildlife roster, the country more than makes up for it with a quirky and diverse array of creatures.

So, as you embark on your Kiwi adventure, keep those eyes peeled for the enchanting kiwi birds, dolphins, and the countless other unique species that call New Zealand home.

Ready to embrace the Kiwi way of life? Share this post with your fellow travellers to ensure they’re clued in on the real wildlife stars of New Zealand.

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