How much do you know about our Wild Work? As a not-for-profit conservation organisation, Auckland Zoo is committed to safeguarding our beautiful planet, all of its remarkable species, and spectacular landscapes for generations to come. We bring you #Wildwork Wednesday to show you some remarkable people, undertaking extraordinary work in NZ and abroad.

With its bright eyes and textured skin, the rough gecko (Naultinus rudis) is an enchantingly beautiful species. Native to the forests and shrublands along the upper eastern half of the South Island, we are only beginning to get to know them.

With just 40 individuals ever recorded in the wild, and most sightings being decades old, this species was a prime candidate for research to provide updated information. “It’s been quite exciting to learn more about where these animals are and it’s been a privilege to work with them,” says Dr Marieke Lettink, head scientist for the rough gecko survey and one of New Zealand’s most experienced lizard experts.

The survey, run by Fauna Finders and supported by the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, aimed to gather critical information on how this rare species is coping with modern threats and assess the rough gecko’s conservation status. By using the few historical records of gecko sightings and reaching out to the public, the rough gecko survey focused in to search for geckos at targeted sites. Once geckos were found researchers consulted with the landowners to recommend conservation measures.

This research has allowed scientists to down-grade the conservation status of this species from Nationally Endangered to Nationally Vulnerable

Auckland Zoo

Dr Lettink’s work has generated some good news about this enigmatic species. Not only did the survey more than double the number of recorded sightings of rough gecko, but this research has allowed scientists to down-grade the conservation status of this species from Nationally Endangered to Nationally Vulnerable. “It’s the first step in learning where we should put our conservation efforts,” Dr Lettink says, “and empowering the Department of Conservation (DOC) and local councils to protect these newly confirmed gecko hotspots”.

However, our information on this rare gecko is far from complete. Despite the rough gecko’s distinctive pebbled skin and daytime activity, we still know hardly anything about the species behaviour, and more sightings of this rare native are incredibly valuable. So the call is going out – if you are out in the bush between Blenheim and Christchurch, and snap a picture of what could be a rough gecko, please send it in to your local DOC office or to Dr Lettink at Become one of the select group of people who have ever seen a rough gecko, and act as a citizen scientist, helping the emerging research into this species.

If you’d like to get up close and personal to a native gecko without playing hide and seek, Auckland Zoo has several species including rough geckos, living in luxury in Te Wao Nui our home for Aotearoa’s native wildlife.


Aotearoa geckos

From elegant green geckos to colour-changing forest geckos, Ectotherm Keeper Emily Edkins introduces the natives that call Auckland Zoo home