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Wallabies are introduced herbivores. They:
- graze on pasture and browse on native plants
- eat everything that’s at their height in our native bush, including the seedlings that make up future native bush
- destroy productive farmland and forests, and reduce biodiversity in our iconic landscapes
- cost New Zealanders millions in lost farm production and the overall benefits we get from our environment.
Five species of wallabies were introduced to New Zealand from Australia in the late 1800s. They were brought here mainly for hunting and for people who had private zoos. They do not have any natural predators in this country and have adapted well.
Two of these species have become significant pests:
- the dama wallaby in the North Island (found mainly around the Rotorua Lakes area)
- the Bennett's wallaby in the South Island (found mostly in South Canterbury but spreading to other areas).
Videos of the problems wallabies are causing
- damage and prevent native forest regeneration – changing forest composition and diversity
- destroy native species habitat and food sources
- compete for feed with sheep, cattle, and other livestock – with significant economic impact
- damage crops, young trees, and fences
- increase the risk of erosion and contribute to poor water quality.
Along with other introduced browsing animals like deer and goats, wallabies can kill native forests, causing them to release carbon rather than holding it. By eating seedlings and killing young trees, introduced browsers also consume our future carbon sinks.
Wallabies are very mobile. It's estimated that on average, populations can spread up to 2 kilometres every year.
The economic impact of wallabies could reach $84 million a year by 2025. Unless controlled, this cost will increase.
Maps of wallaby distribution in NZ
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 northwest. 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 southwest
- as far as northern Hawke's Bay in the southeast
- 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.
[End of the maps' description]
Wallabies are classified as an unwanted organism under sections 52 and 53 of the Biosecurity Act 1993. That means they can't be bred, sold, moved (transported), or exhibited without a permit.
They can breed from a young age, which means populations can build quickly if not well-managed.
What we aim to do is to:
- contain wallabies to the main known population areas in the North and South Islands
- remove anything outside of them
- stop anything getting through them
- over time, slowly reduce these areas to rid them of all the wallabies.
Wallabies are naturally elusive and are largely nocturnal.
They hide in bush or scrub during the day and come out at night to feed.
To control and stop them spreading, we need to know where they are. This is where we need your help.
We need you to report any sightings or signs of wallabies, anywhere in New Zealand.
Dead or alive. Their paw prints. Or their droppings (poo).
Your reports are critical to control and stop their spread.
You can report sightings online.
Wallabies are not a new problem. But they are a national pest problem that needs a joint effort to solve.
We're leading Tipu Mātoro, a national eradication programme. Central and local government agencies are working in partnership with iwi, farmers, landowners, and communities.
Together we have a vision for a wallaby-free Aotearoa.
Tipu Mātoro has:
- $27.4 million of funding for wallaby control from 2020 to 2024
- ongoing funding of $7 million a year after 2024
- developed a national strategy.
The Tipu Mātoro Aotearoa New Zealand wallaby strategy sets out the partnership's proactive plan for protecting New Zealand's natural and production environments from introduced pest wallabies.
The summary of the Tipu Mātoro strategy explains the approach and framework.
What we're doing
Once we stop the spread of wallabies from main populations and eliminate outlier populations, it will make eradication possible.
Tipu Mātoro is tackling the wallaby problem by:
- doing surveillance and population control in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Canterbury, and Otago
- improving wallaby detection and control methods
- doing research to better understand wallabies in New Zealand.
Note that Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf is home to parma, dama, swamp and brush-tailed rock wallabies. These offshore wallabies are not an immediate priority for the national programme, as they are confined to the island. However, there is a risk they could be moved to the mainland and Tipu Mātoro supports the work of Auckland Council to eradicate the wallabies from the island.
Regional pest management plan – Auckland Council [PDF, 382KB]
We're not doing this work alone. We are working with partner organisations including councils, farmers, and iwi.
Regional councils involved and their wallaby webpages
Industry and non-governmental organisations
Find out more
Control and monitoring of pest wallabies – Bionet [PDF, 2.8MB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about wallabies or the eradication programme, email email@example.com