The Poor Knights are renowned for their diversity of reptiles, which include the northernmost population of tuatara, also many lizard species two of which are endemic. There is also a remarkable diversity of endemic or nationally scarce invertebrates.
On the Poor Knights reptiles play a huge role in the ecology of the Islands forests; there are as many lizards on the Poor Knights as there are forest birds. At night you can see geckos pollinating Ngaio, Xeronema, and Pohutukawa flowers. They also eat coprosma berries and kawakawa fruit acting as distributors and pollinators in the same way as birds would. I have been told by one of the visiting parties on the Poor Knights that they came across a Duvaucels gecko, New Zealand’s largest gecko (up to 30cm long) swallowing a 3cm long Karaka berry. When heading out at night for a walk with a touch you would swear it was raining with constant rustling of insects, geckos and skinks making their way through the dry leaf litter. There are all the large invertebrates on the Poor Knights, particularly the weta and the centipede, both giants of their kind. The Poor Knights Weta (Deinacrida dalai) grows to 80mm in length and can weigh close to 50 grams, heavier than a bell bird. The centipede can reach 250mm in length. When on the Poor Knights Rod Morris described in a National Geographic encountering a centipede dragging a gecko its own size across the forest floor returning several hours later to find only the skeleton remaining. The grapsid crab has been seen at night several hundred metres from the sea with flax snails in its claws dragging them back to coastal rock pools to consume at their leisure.
Guy & Sandra Bowden are owners of Tawapou Coastal Natives Plant Nursery on the Tutukaka Coast. Guy grew up on the Tutukaka Coast and has been passionate about NZ native plants all his life. His interest was kindled by his conservationist parents who began protecting sections of native bush and pohutukaka on the cliffs of the property over forty years ago. Guy talks about The Poor Knights Islands in relation to location & geology; history; plants and birds on the islands; reptiles, insects and snails on the islands; marine life and the 1996 weed eradication programme.