New Zealand is generally a very safe country to visit in terms of dangerous animals, insects or plants. The chances of a visitor being seriously harmed or hospitalized in this way are very low.
New Zealand is an isolated country and its ecosystem developed independently over millions of years. The island nation has an insignificant number of dangerous creatures and there are no lethally poisonous snakes, scorpions, spiders, or any other species on the island.
However, as in all countries, there are some things which can cause harm. If travellers are aware of which creatures can hurt them, it makes it easier to take some common-sense precautions to minimize the chances of an incident.
This guide will explain the most common types of animals, insects, and plants which have been known to pose a threat to visitors.
Dangerous animals in New Zealand
There are very few indigenous species of mammals in New Zealand. Most were introduced after human settlement. There are no land animals which are likely to cause harm to humans, but there are a few sea creatures which can.
There are lots of sharks around the coast of New Zealand but the chances of an attack are very low. Sharks are generally not interested in people and you are more likely to be struck by lightning during your trip. Surfers are at a slightly higher risk as their wetsuit might make them look like a seal, but the odds are still very low.
These jellyfish can be found on beaches in New Zealand when tides pull them down from more northern waters. They are very difficult to spot and can inflict a very painful sting. Although they are not common, it is worth checking with a local whether they are present before going for a swim in the sea.
Seals and sea lions
In general, seals and sea lions do not pose a threat to humans. However, they can feel threatened if people get too close so it is best to keep a safe distance. When there are young pups nearby the parents can be very protective.
Dangerous insects in New Zealand
There are a few types of poisonous insects in New Zealand though it is unlikely they will cause visitors any serious problems. However, there are certain insect bites which do require a visit to the hospital.
This type of spider is very rare in New Zealand but those who get bitten should quickly go to the hospital. Although the venom is not lethal, it can cause a nasty infection. The spiders are fairly small, their body is about the size of a pea, they are black with a red stripe on the back.
Redback spiders have recently spread from Australia to New Zealand, however, they are not very common. In case of a bite, an injection of antivenom would be necessary to avoid serious injury. It is closely related to the Katipo spider and looks very similar.
The white-tailed spider also originates from Australia but is fairly common in New Zealand. Their bites can be painful but do not cause any serious problems. They are often found in cracks between wood so wooden furniture should be moved with care. They can be up to 18mm long and are characterized by the white tips on their abdomens.
Unfortunately, the wet climate makes New Zealand perfect for one of the world’s most annoying and deadliest insects. However, mosquitos do not spread disease in New Zealand but they still cause a great deal of irritation. Mosquito repellant is advisable and visitors should use a mosquito net during the summer months.
Wasps and bees
Like most countries, there are wasps and bees. Generally speaking they only cause a minor nuisance and, although stings are painful, they are unlikely to cause any serious problems. However, they can pose a serious threat to those who are allergic to their venom.
Dangerous plants in New Zealand
Visitors should always do some research and be cautious when picking and eating plant-based foods. The following types of plants can only cause negative effects if eaten.
Castor oil plant
According to the Guinness World Records, this is the most poisonous common plant. Eating it can be fatal.
Death cap mushroom
As its name suggests, eating these mushrooms can be lethal. If treatment is not given quickly, they can kill a person by destroying their liver.
Thorn apple (Datura)
The thorn apple causes hallucinations, overstimulation of the heart, and acts as a strong muscle relaxant. Although some people choose to eat it, it is one of the most dangerous plants on the island.
Jerusalem cherry (Solanum Diflorum)
The plant bears orange, yellow, and red berries which look appealing to eat. However, they are mildly toxic and can cause problems.
Read more safety tips for New Zealand and find out what to in the event of natural disasters.
Travellers going to New Zealand should apply for their visa or relevant permit in advance of their trip. Many nationalities are now eligible for the New Zealand eTA which means they can avoid the trouble of going to an embassy or consulate and complete the entire visa waiver application online.