Wallabies, Kangaroos in New Zealand

It's not widely known, even by many New Zealanders, that a close relative of the Australian kangaroo, the smaller sized Tammar Wallaby and the Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby, are found in large numbers in both the North & South Island. But unfortunately, like most of the animals that have been introduced to New Zealand over the past 200 years, they have multiplied and in doing so, have become a pest.

Wallabies are certainly cute looking little animals, especially when seen carrying their young ones (called "joeys") in their kangaroo like pouch.

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The wallably problem started in 1870, when just three pairs of Australian Tammar Wallabies were introduced into the South Island, with others later released near Rotorua in the North Island. On Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland, Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallabies were released, also in 1870.

But both species have now reached such large numbers, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, they are causing damage to the indigenous forests of New Zealand and threatening native birdlife by eating the fruit, seeds and flowers that both depend on. 

They are very shy animals and spends their days resting under dense vegetation, only emerging to eat after dark, so despite their growing numbers, they are not often seen.

Concerns about the destruction of native ecosystems are now so worrisome, that scientists are working with the New Zealand Government to find a way to control the wallaby population and as a result, the fluffy marsupiall might not have an exciting long-term future in New Zealand.

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So, if you ever hear someone say "I saw a Kangaroo in the wilds of New Zealand" what they will have seen is a wallaby.

If you would like to keep an eye out for wallabies on your New Zealand self-drive vacation, the best opportunity to see one, will probably be the 17 Day Amazing Contrasts self drive itinerary.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Sep 17, 2016