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Does New Zealand Have Snakes? (All You Need To KNOW!)

There are no native snakes in New Zealand, and it’s absolutely illegal to keep snakes in New Zealand. If you happen to visit a zoo in New Zealand, you’d be surprised to find no snakes.

A lot like Hawaii, this country does not house native snakes of any sort. According to certain studies, snakes have been made illegal by authorities due to the rapid endangering of other animal species. In the past millennia, New Zealand has lost a number of valuable species, and it is believed that species of snakes may cause more harm to the ecosystem.

But of course, there’s always the exception. Just because authorities have prohibited snakes as pets, snakes themselves make their way to the borders of the country through the water. Those species that reach the mainland via the ocean are generally yellow-bellied sea snakes and kraits.  

Is The Yellow-bellied Snake Native To New Zealand?

Yellow Bellied Sea Snake lying on Rock
Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

As we already know, there are no native snakes in New Zealand. Yellow-bellied snakes are usually found in the Indian and Pacific oceans, but rather frequently they also drift over to the waters surrounding New Zealand. These snakes are not extremely poisonous, so there’s nothing grave to worry about.

Plus, they cannot survive on land. So, the chances of witnessing a yellow-bellied snake in New Zealand are quite low. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfectly safe to go close to or hold one if you do come across one.

Related Article: Does New Zealand have Kangaroos?

Are The Snakes In New Zealand Poisonous?

Footage of Yellow-lipped Sea Krait Underwater

By now, we already know that snakes are not native to New Zealand, but what about the ones that visit by water? The yellow-bellied sea snakes are mildly poisonous, but a lethal species are lurking beneath the waters of New Zealand – the banded sea krait.

These sea kraits have deadly venom that could threaten animals as well. Banded sea kraits usually drift over to the waters from the Fijian seas or around Thailand and sometimes China. You may wonder why it’s called a krait and not a snake. Well, sea snakes can only survive underwater, while kraits are amphibious. It means you may even find these venomous kraits in and around the land areas.

But there’s nothing to fear about. It’s extremely rare to spot a sea krait in New Zealand. However, travellers must be cautious. As snake attacks are very rare in the country, some medical facilities may not be equipped to treat patients if they face an unfortunate encounter with any of these species.

In Which Parts Do Most Snakes Reside In New Zealand?

North Island

The North Island has recorded frequent sightings of yellow-bellied sea snakes and on somewhat rare occasions of sea krait.

North Island of New Zealand compared to South Island is warmer and drier. This is one reason why snakes appear around the Northern waters. If you’re travelling to the coasts of North Island, keep a close watch on the shallow waters.

If you’re lucky enough you may get to experience the rare occurrence of witnessing a sea snake.

Can You Own A Pet Snake In New Zealand?

No, you cannot own a pet snake in New Zealand. Even zoos are not allowed to house snakes, let alone keep them as pets. It’s illegal and questionable by authorities if found. New Zealand is very strict on this matter when compared to other countries that don’t house native snakes.

Besides, having a snake as a pet may not be the most convenient choice. Not only are they non-domestic, but they are venomous as well. If you’re a traveller who owns a pet snake, you will not be able to bring it with you on your tour to New Zealand.

Or if you’re planning to settle down in New Zealand, you will not have any chance of seeing a live snake on land.

Can Snakes Create A Habitat In New Zealand?

It would be quite a difficult task for snakes to create a habitat in New Zealand, given its cold weather that does not accommodate most land reptiles. Although the North Island does cater to some of the requirements, it’s still not the most welcoming habitat for snakes.

Chances of survival are challenging as digesting food requires warm climates. That’s not all. Now that New Zealand has steered clear from snakes for decades, the ecosystem doesn’t accommodate snakes, making survival tough.

The chances of both a male and a female making their way to the country are also highly unlikely. Even if one of the two makes its way to New Zealand, without the accessibility for reproduction, the species will die.

So, if you’re wondering whether snakes can create a habitat in New Zealand – most accurately, yes, they could live in a controlled environment with the support of the authorities, but the facts are beyond reasoning.

How Do Snakes Reach New Zealand?

Snakes make their way to the land either through ocean waters or ships. Sea snakes such as the yellow-bellied snake and the kraits drift over from Asia and the Pacific waters while some sea snakes may even make their way to New Zealand clinging onto cargo ships.

Throughout history – since the European settlement – most snakes that were brought to the land, or spotted on land, were carried on ships.

However, these snakes that voluntarily swam their way through to New Zealand, either through a ship or drifted over to the land, couldn’t survive due to the prevalent subtropical climate.

Other Dangerous Animals In New Zealand

White - Tailed Spider
White-Tailed Spider

Snakes may not be native to New Zealand, but there are certainly a few other dangerous animals in New Zealand. Spiders are the most common. When you’re in the wilderness of North Island, you’ll come across the famous white-tailed spider, the katipo spider, and a few more creepy crawlers, but they’re not extremely poisonous.

You might want to stay away from the bluebottle jellyfish though, these creatures lurk in the shallow waters of the ocean and are difficult to spot. They are not deadly, but the sting can last for days. If you spot dead jellyfish having washed up to the shores, better avoid swimming in the sea.

Another danger that lurks around the waters of New Zealand are sharks. Great white sharks are commonly spotted all around the year close to the North Island.

If you’re a surfer, you may want to watch out for these predators. It’s usually pretty safe, but safe is better than sorry, so keep an eye out.


So, there you have it! New Zealand is not native to snakes, and they don’t accommodate snakes in their lands either – including the zoos. If you’re travelling to indulge in the wilderness, you will never come across land snakes. If you’re fortunate enough, you may spot a few sea snakes on North Island.

A major reason for not allowing snakes within the country is that New Zealand treasures its exotic land species and birds which will be potentially threatened by snakes. If you do visit the wilderness of New Zealand, you’d know why the authorities are strict about protecting the animals. They’re just beautiful.