Wallabies in NZ: controlling their numbers
Wallabies were introduced to New Zealand for hunting but they have become a pest. Find out what we're doing to control them.
Why wallabies are a problem
New Zealand is home to 5 wallaby species. They were introduced for hunting more than 140 years ago. Now they are a pest to farmers and damage native plants. Their numbers are growing and they have spread across several regions.
- damage native forests and tussocks
- compete for feed with sheep, cattle, and other livestock
- damage crops, young trees, and fences
- increase the risk of erosion.
Dama wallabies are in the Rotorua area. They have spread into the Waikato. Bennett's wallabies are in Canterbury and North Otago. Within 50 years, wallabies could spread across a third of the North and South Islands.
The first map shows the central North Island, with current and predicted distributions of dama wallabies shown on it. In the North Island in 2015, wallabies could be found around Rotorua. They reached as far north as the Bay of Plenty coast. It was predicted that by 2020 wallabies would have spread to the edge of Tauranga in the north-west. By 2025 they could reach as far as Whakatane in the east. By 2035 they could spread to Taupo. It was predicted that by 2065 their range could reach:
- Hamilton and into the lower Coromandel in the northwest
- past Turangi in the south-west
- as far as northern Hawke's Bay in the south-east
- through Te Urewera National Park in the east.
The second map shows the central South Island, with current and predicted distributions of Bennett's wallabies shown on it. In the South Island in 2015, wallabies were mostly found in southern Canterbury. This population was around Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki and almost reached the coast at Oamaru and Timaru. A second population occurred east of Wanaka. Small numbers also occurred in isolated areas in Waitaki, Waimakariri, and Banks Peninsula. It was predicted that by 2020 and 2025 the ranges of these populations would have increased. By 2035 the southern Canterbury and Otago populations were expected to have merged. The populations in Waimakariri and Banks Peninsula would also have spread but remain separate. By 2065 it is expected that the southern Canterbury and Otago population of wallabies will have spread south into Otago and north into more of Canterbury. The populations in Waimakariri and on Banks Peninsula will have merged and covered more of central Canterbury.
A programme to manage wallabies
MPI is leading a national wallaby management programme.
What we'll be doing
- Surveillance and population control in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Canterbury, and Otago.
- Building fences to slow the spread of wallabies.
- Improving wallaby detection and control.
Note that Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf is home to parma, dama, swamp, and brush-tailed rock wallabies. These wallabies cannot spread so they are not part of the programme.
Wallaby programme funding
The programme has $27.4 million of funding from 2020 to 2024. It is part of the Government's $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature programme.
The programme will help support regional communities. It will create jobs and give extra work to businesses providing goods and services.
Help from other organisations
We're not doing this work alone. We are working with partner organisations including councils, farmers, and iwi.