Auckland Museums outstanding land vertebrates collection comprises over 12,500 bird specimens, 2,500 amphibians and reptiles and 1,000 land mammals.
These specimens are primarily from northern New Zealand, but there is also a significant amount of material from elsewhere in the country, from islands of the south-west Pacific, from Australia and from around the world. The collection is particularly strong in kiwis and moas, oceanic seabirds, penguins, cormorants, ducks, waders and allies (Charadriiformes), passerine birds, tuataras, geckos, skinks , Pacific reptiles and New Zealand bats.
Our aim is to hold representative samples reflecting the geographic, seasonal, sexual, individual and age variations of each species and some of the best mounted animals from New Zealand are displayed in the galleries on the first floor of the Museum.
Types of preparations
The types of preparations held include: mounts (illustrating the finest taxidermy), study-skins, outstretched wings, feather sheets, articulated skeletons, bones, whole specimens in ethanol, eggs and nests.
Most specimens are stored in the research and reference collection, and are accessible to researchers by appointment. These voucher specimens establish the presence of species at particular places and times, and are used for scientific studies where large samples are measured or recorded. They also serve in the identifications of unknown specimens by comparison.
Most of the catalogues are now computerised which permits listing of specimens in numerous ways, whilst new specimens are today acquired by the presentation of animals that members of the public (including students, professional researchers and conservation staff) find dead.
The Albatross Diorama is near the Natural History Information Centre on the First Floor.
It shows the courtship display of a pair of wandering albatrosses Diomedea exulans (Maori name: toroa) at their nest on a subantarctic island.
The Arctic Group
The Arctic Group is in the “Weird & Wonderful” Children’s Discovery Centre on the First Floor.
It depicts a polar bear Ursus maritimus stalking a group of three musk oxen Ovibos moschatus (two adults and a calf).
Search the Natural Science Database
For more information search the database of Land Vertebrate specimens. The entire collection of birds, land mammals, reptiles and amphibians is available.
The database is intended for scientific and academic research so searching must be done on scientific names from family level or lower in the Linnaean classification hierarchy. It’s not possible to use common names e.g., gecko, ship rat, little blue penguin, tui.
The advanced search function also lets you search on type status, geographical locality, collector, date etc.
Back to Natural Science home
Objects and specimans from the land vertebrates collection can be seen in the following galleries:
Natural History Information Centre
Weird & Wonderful
(Some foreign species are also displayed here)
History of Land Vertebrates
The Land Vertebrates collection has been formed over the Museums 150-year history and includes the oldest surviving New Zealand stuffed birds, bought from Mr I. St John, a taxidermist of Nelson, around 1856-57 read more »
View here the titles of recent research publications and popular books related to Auckland Museums land vertebrates work and collections
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Curator Brian Gill
Phone (09) 309 0443