Guilty until proven innocent - travelling in NZ


New member
Guilty until proven innocent OR the current state of travel in New Zealand

BE CAREFUL what you post on any forum because someone is probably reading and that will screw you over on your next overseas innocent herping trip. New Zealand is a gorgeous country with an amazing geckofauna, but the government, I’m afraid, is somewhat ignorant of their herpotofauna and unfortunately very paranoid. Don’t be an idiot and smuggle! It ruins it for the rest of us. Respect the country’s laws even if they don’t really know what they are doing. They’ll figure it out one day – I hope.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Stubacca ~

Oh my go*!!! A huge thanks for posting all these details. Your account is remarkable on many levels. They even had one of your recent photos as "evidence"!!! :shock:

I hope that you are tough and have recovered from this experience.

Thanks for sharing your photos with us. So cute. I love every one of them.


New member
I think that is how it works everywhere now, guilty until proven otherwise.

Glad the trip was fun otherwise :)

Ken Bartenfeld

New member
Interesting read for sure. Sorry about them hassling you so much. Guess you can expect it. Hope the future doesn't involve Stuart again. Sounds like a prick.

Thanks for the photos.

I got a kick out of this:

as well as willingly offered to submit to full search (I even proffered the cavity search, which he (thankfully) arrogantly refused).

Thanks god he rufused, eh?


New member
Guess what folks,New Zealand aint the only government that uses forums as a tool to keep track of what is going on.They all do it.This is why people should watch what they say on forums about animals and where they come from.Especially New Zealand,Australia and New Caledonia!!But certainly others.Even if what you say doesn't get you in trouble personally it causes other people trouble and makes it harder for people who do things legally with the proper protocol.It makes it harder to get permits etc.It brings unwanted attention.Do not say what you are doing ,where you are going,what you have (like fresh new bloodlines) Don't even do it over the computer in private.They can get into your private stuff.Just keep it to yourself.I know for a fact they all(gov. agencies), including individual state officials in the U.S.,look at forums and classifieds like Kingsnake.I know of instances in my neighbouring state (missouri)where the conservation officials have used advertisements on Kingsnake to bust people and then used the ad as evidence to nail the coffin shut.
This is why people should watch what they say on forums about animals and where they come from
Absolutely. I've received numerous emails from F&W "officials" and other agencies around the world inquiring about certain folks and posts here. They are definitely watching. Play by the rules, folks. Wait, there's someone at my door...


New member
Interesting and I am also very sure that ......... somethings are out there watching, it's all the same around the world.


New member
private collection holder of NZ geckos - advice!

Hi Stubacca

I came across your post after doing a google search for "naultinus" and thought I could offer some advice.Have you heard of the New Zealand Herpetological society? We're a group of people interested in NZ reptiles and most members keep NZ gecko species as well. If you wanted/want to see geckos in private collections in NZ we are the best people to contact - the regional rep.'s for the society in particular are really friendly and I imagine they would be happy to show you their collections. Many members have vast collections of animals - I'm about to visit a society member guy who lives near me in Wellington who I'm told has over 600 lizards including several endangered species that you could otherwise only see in the wild 9 and there aren't many left so that would be difficult).

It's unfortunate that no one told you that going through DOC was a bad idea - dude there is so much beauracracy and crap to deal with going through them. The idea that you need a permit to handle geckos is a little ridiculous - obviously they don't want people stealing them but what about cases where not handling would result in their death or injury? I have picked up individuals of several species in order to stop them being squashed. Just last week I found a Hoplodactylus granulatus on a track near my house in the middle of a busy track - I picked it up and photographed it with a friend before placing it safely out of harms way in the surrounding forest. Getting a permit to keep lizards here is much harder than it used to be also.. some other gecko keeprs I know grumble about this as many of them are middle aged and grew up in a time when you could just waltze into the forest and grab some geckos to keep and you wouldn't be breaking any laws. but then again a lot has changed in the past 30 years..

DOC can be a bit overzealous sometimes but they are mean well There has been at least one case of reptile collectors from overseas coming here and trying to make off with several native geckos ( no doubt others have done so successfully and escaped scot free). Our naultinus geckos are very beautiful and we know how desireable they are - I don't blame many people here for wanting some naultinus . I keep some Forest and Pacific geckos but the idea of getting some Naultinus is why I started keeping geckos in the first place.. I think it's inevitable that they're going to monitor sites like this because people here fit the profile of those who have tried to smuggle out endemic species from our country before. I agree that they should have given you the benefit of the doubt however..

Are you in touch with anyone from victoria university ( wellington)? They have at least 10 graduate students ( 3 of them americans like yourself) doing research on NZ reptiles.

If you come back to NZ at some point please don't hesitate to get in touch with me - I can show you my 3 geckos and I can also put you in touch with some other society members with vast, specatular collections.

Cheers, Nick


New member
The NZ officials may seem 'paranoid', but when you consider the shear number of geckos that have been taken illegally from the country already (can anyone hear name a case of NZ geckos leaving the country by LEGAL channels? can anyone produce any actual permits?!) they really have no choice. Poachers have wreaked terrible damage on wild populations in NZ - Ive seen some of the best populations of N. gemmeus, for example, almost disapear entirely because of poachers, not to mention a number of people keeping lizards through the correct legal channels in NZ have had their animals stolen by poachers. Unfortunitly the lack of thought by overseas keepers as to where their own specimens REALLY came from, not the load of cr*p story they have been fed, is fueling a massive problem that does involve entire populations going extinct in NZ. No amount of 'they were bred here' will undo the harm caused to the geckos by their initial theft. Read the book 'The Lizard King'... to get an idea of whats behind it all. We like our geckos and are sick of having them stolen, and are sick of the lack or moral support by people who profess to like these animals, yet are quite happy to prop up their downfall by paying money to the poaching system!

Having said that, anyone should be able to come to NZ and enjoy our geckos without being hassled. But please remember why there is paranoia in the first place, its because back where the animals come from, there are no excuses for the overseas animals, there are just empty bushes where geckos USED to live.


New member
Love your post Mr "Rocknvole" & I couldn't agree more.
I've seen the damage caused by poaching first hand, it is inexcusable.

I'm pleased that DoC are suspicious. Seeing empty bushes where gecko used to live is devasting.


New member
Just checked this post for the first time in 4 years. Ahhh memories...

Nobody wants DoCs job, and with hindsite I don't mind that they searched my bag, even on some pretty faint probable cause. But I still feel the going through the camera (which unfortunately was also in my checked bag) was a bit invasive. And there they are under no obligation to insert a note saying you were inspected. I wish they were as rigorous with getting rid of possums - they've been far more devastating than poachers ever were.