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Poisonous and Venomous Snakes, Spiders, Bugs And Creatures In New Zealand

Updated on December 9, 2015
White-Tail Spider Bite
White-Tail Spider Bite

Poisonous and Venomous Snakes, Spiders, Bugs And Creatures In New Zealand.

New Zealand is an utterly amazing country with beautiful scenery, a tropical climate, and very friendly inhabitants.

But as with many countries with a hotter than average climate, poisonous insects can plague a vacation with illness, injuries and even death. Although out of the millions of tourists who flock to this gorgeous island paradise every year, only a few have had their vacation ruined as well as their lives. But it does happen.

Made up of two main islands, The North Island and The South Island, New Zealand has many other smaller islands around its coast.

Every year tourists flock here to sample the culture and partake in the lifestyle which is the envy of the world. Being fore warned is fore armed.

There are many dangerous wild animals and poisonous insects in New Zealand.

Snakes Of New Zealand

New Zealand is extremely lucky in the fact that they have no land snakes. There have never been any reported incidences with snakes since records began. Sea snakes are a different problem altogether.

The Yellow Bellied Poisonous Sea Snake is most common on the Northeast side of the North Island, but it can travel.

Sea snakes of New Zealand usually prey on fish and one bite to a fish is fatal.

Paralysis can occur in a human if they are bitten by this water snake. the snake can grow to near five feet in length and bites from these may go by unnoticed for several hours before symptoms begin to become apparent.

Early symptoms of a sea snake bite are headaches, profuse sweating and vomiting. Aching limbs and a stiffness of the bodies muscles will also begin to occur from anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours after the initial bite.

Urine can turn to black or a dark red color as the muscles that are breaking down produce plasma which is passed out of the body. The paralysis of the respiratory muscles can lead to cardiac arrest and then death.

Sea snakes in New Zealand need to treated with caution. They are highly venomous and although there are not many fatalities or bites reported, they do occur. If sea snakes are in the area, do not go swimming in the sea, find a nice cool swimming pool instead.

If you are bitten seek medical attention immediately, your life may depend on it.

Initial Red Back Spider Bite
Initial Red Back Spider Bite


There are over 2500 species of spiders in New Zealand, but only three species are poisonous to humans.

Red Back Spider

The Red Back Spiders are close relatives of the black widow species of spider and are considered to be one of the most poisonous spiders in New Zealand. Bites by this little beauty are so common that an anti-venom is available over the counter at most pharmacies.

This 1 cm spider is predominantly black ( but occasionally brown ) with a red hourglass figure on the upper stomach area.

Red Back spiders usually prey on small insects, but have been known to trap other spiders and even small lizards. From the thousands of bites recorded every year, only about 20% require medical treatment, but take no chances.

Once bitten, the area will become red and begin to swell. If any other areas apart from the bite area become red or swollen, the person will also have an allergic reaction.

Vomiting, nausea, chest and abdominal pain may follow as the venom is carried around the body. This can be accompanies with sweating and headaches and on rare occasions seizure and coma as well as death will follow. There have been no recorded deaths since the introduction of the anitvenom.

Katipo Spider

This spider is native to New Zealand and is an endangered species. Similar in description to the Red Back spiders, but has a leg span of approximately 3 cm.

Living mainly in sand dunes facing away from the sea, this species of spider is regarded as a non aggressive type. Bites do occur but very rarely, usually when stood on by people playing on the dunes. Symptoms are also the same as the Red Back Spider bites.

White Tailed Spider

The White Tailed Spider is easily distinguishable by the white tip at the end of its' abdomen. Various studies show different results as to the venomous actions of the poisons of this spider in humans.

This spider usually does not spin a web but hunts their prey instead. Growing to 12 mm in length with a 28 mm diameter leg span, this little cutie can cause a person very severe pain when they bite.

These spiders can be found in the home and quite often in the bed, towels or other soft furnishings such as clothes. Most bites come to nothing and severe cases are only reported when people have an allergic reaction.

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Eels have never been considered dangerous to anyone in the world, until now.

Reports from around New Zealand about eels attacking scuba divers are becoming more common. A four feet long eel attempted to drag a young girl away whilst she was wading through a small river. These fresh water fish migrate to the ocean to spawn their millions of eggs each year.

Eels are slippery creatures and difficult and dangerous to hold. Their teeth are designed to grip onto their prey, rather than to bite them.

They tear the meat from the bone by vigorously rotating their entire body rapidly whilst holding onto their prey. This causes severe injury and a great loss of blood. Attacks are very rare as the meat eating eels usually eat dead animals and other fish.

Caves containing water will possibly be the home of fresh water eels and care should be taken whilst wading or swimming in any water. Eels are not afraid of man, they will swim next to you and nuzzle up to your body.

The eels have a greater sense of smell than the great white shark and can detect blood from miles away, even from a small cut. Eels can be found all across New Zealand, and although not considered very dangerous, can severely ruin a vacation.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      im from new zealand worked in the bush falling tress for many years and done a lot of hunting. the only thing you ever see is the white tail never herd of any one being biting by 1 ell they are harmless been swimming with them many times water snakes did even no we had them new zealand wild life is harm less. im living in aus now see poisonous snakes daily it is dodge here

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Wow, this puts me on guard for being around spiders! Eugh! If I ever visit New Zealand, I will be careful! Great Hub!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 

      8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Great article, I learned a lot I did not know!

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 

      8 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Well at least New Zealand doesn't have any poisonous land snakes! Great hub to read, as I plan on hiking there someday. I can put up with three poisonous spiders. Thanks!

    • InTuneWithCooking profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Living in Australia I'm pretty well versed in the effects of these little buggers! (the spiders) I hate them. Last year I was bitten by a small white tip on my leg, and the pain was awesome!...and the "rash" and itch lasted for weeks. I quite often find them in my bed and surrounds, everywhere actually...they love to creep up on you. I have seen them at least 5 cm (50 mm, not exagerating) long in my house! Now I have the shivers!!


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