New skink, gecko species may have been found in the South Island

Several new skink and gecko species may have been found in the South Island's mountains. 

Gecko found in Mt Aspiring National Park. Source: Samuel Purdie

They were found during an "intensive hunt" for lizards over summer.

The finds were made in remote areas of Fiordland, Mount Aspiring and Nelson Lakes national parks, and the Hooker/Landsborough wilderness area on the West Coast. 

Lizard survey project leader, Dr Jo Monks from the Department of Conservation, said field teams had "struck gold" with finds of two new skinks and two new geckos, which could all be completely new species. 

"They look different to known species, but we won't know for certain until we get the results of genetic testing.

"If they aren't new species, it means we have discovered populations of these lizards in places we didn't know they were, which is great news."

Skink found in Fiordland National Park. Source: Carey Knox, Wildland Consultants

The survey team spent about three days at each site, combing the ground, carefully lifting rocks and spotlighting at night for geckos, which are nocturnal. 

In the Wick Mountains in northern Fiordland, 20 skinks were found in an area not surveyed previously, confirming the hunch it was suitable lizard habitat.

A trip into the depths of Mount Aspiring National Park to investigate a single gecko sighting resulted in nine geckos being found in an area far from other known populations.

Gecko found at Nelson Lakes National Park. Source: Ben Barr

Lizard prints in a rodent tracking tunnel in the Hooker/Landsborough Wilderness Area on the West Coast sparked a three-day search that led to the discovery of one pregnant female skink.

Another gecko was found in Nelson Lakes National Park, where the elusive Cupola gecko was also rediscovered this summer after only two previous sightings.

"These finds are very exciting and show there is much about our alpine lizards still be discovered," Monks said.