|Wildlife in New Zealand :
Before the arrival of human settlers, New Zealand was predominately a land of birds.
Our only native mammals are two species of bat - the pragmatically named long-tailed bat and short-tailed bat.
To Maori, both species are known as pekapeka. Our bats are fully protected and live mostly on island sanctuaries, such as Stewart Island, Little Barrier Island, Great Barrier Island and Kapiti Island.
Another distinctive native inhabitant is easier to find. The tuatara, a medium-sized reptile, is the planet's only remaining member of the order Sphenodontia, which flourished during the age of the dinosaurs some 200 million years ago.
Tuatara are kept by most of the country's zoos, and the Southland Museum in Invercargill has an impressive collection.
For things spiny and slimy, look for native aquariums. Our native freshwater lobster and longfinned eel (known as koura and tuna respectively) were once important food sources for Maori.
New Zealand is also home to one of the world's largest insects - the giant weta, which can weigh as much as 70 grams. Although fearsome to view, with curved tusks and spiky legs, weta are harmless unless provoked.