There are over 70 species of wētā unique to New Zealand, including 11 species of giant wētā, of which the wētāpunga is the largest.

Female wētāpunga are larger than the males and can reach a weight of 35 grams - heavier than your average house sparrow!

Once widespread throughout Northland, Auckland and Great Barrier, their distribution decreased until they were only naturally found on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island).

Since 2012, Auckland Zoo has bred and released more than 4,000 wētāpunga onto pest-free islands in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf to ensure the future of this endangered species. 

Video

A very special insect

In today's Zoo Tales episode, ectotherms keeper Ben invites you to get up-close and personal with a very special insect – the wētāpunga.