Fortunately, one doesn’t have to be a scientist to understand the broad answers to how plants & animals got where and why they did. How plants and animals got to New Zealand is explained by current historical biogeography in terms of vicariance – they were on the tectonic plates that broke away to form New Zealand – they were in “Moa’s Ark”; dispersal – they arrived under their own power or caught a ride by air or water after the crustal plates separated; or by extinction – species survive in one place and not another for various reasons.
But there are also the tuatara, a long-lived reptile
the now extinct moa, shown here under attack by the extinct Haast's Eagle:
Less well-known, even among many New Zealanders, are the New Zealand Wrens – non-singing passerines (song birds) who at best can raise a tiny squeak – giant carnivorous land snails, and many insect species including the batfly and marine caddisflies.
Bush Wren - extinct in modern times
While not endemic, the stick insect is another one of New Zealand's oddities:
courtesy Landcare NZ
Just as revealing of the effects of geographic isolation are the species absent from
With the arrival of man, a number of introduced species including the kiore or Polynesian rat that arrived with the Maori and the Norway rat, the stoat and weasel, feral cat, and opossum that arrived with the European (pakeha) have severely reduced many endemic species, some to the point of extinction.
Gibbs’ summation of the current state of the scientific knowledge on
George Gibbs, Ghosts of Gondwana, Craig Potton Publishing, is available at
Note – This publisher provides exemplary international book sales service at a fair price. It's founder, a nature photographer, has produced superb work over the decades. But don't take my word for it, go check out the site. (And, no, I receive no benefit for saying so!)