Cupola gecko

The Cupola gecko (Mokopirirakau "cupola") is a species of gecko. Cupola is not its official scientific name; it is yet to be authorised as a separate species, and this term, named after the Cupola Basin in the Nelson Lakes National Park where it was first discovered, is used as a placeholder.[1] It is endemic to New Zealand. It has only been confirmed to be present in two places, the Cupola Basin in the Nelson Lakes National Park,[1] and the Sabine Valley.[1]

Cupola gecko
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Diplodactylidae
Genus: Mokopirirakau
M. "cupola"
Binomial name
Mokopirirakau "cupola"

In March 2021, 53 years after the first sighting, and 14 years after the last confirmed sighting, four cupola geckos, including a pregnant female, were found in the Sabine Valley in an expedition headed by herpetologist Ben Barr.[2]


Very few recorded specimens of the Cupola gecko exist.[3] It is similar in appearance to other forest geckos, having a grey-brown colour with dark W or V shaped bands or blotches.[3] It differs from other related species in that it has a shorter snout and a triangular shaped head with V-shaped markings.[2] It has a speckled undersurface, a bright orange mouth lining, and grey/brown eyes.[4] The sizes of adult specimens are unknown, but probably measure around 70-85mm.[4] Juveniles are dark grey-brown with grey chevron markings and scatted spots of mustard yellow.[4]


The Cupola gecko is only known to exist in the Cupola Basin and the Sabine Valley. The first Cupola Basin specimen was found in a scrubby boulder field not far above the Cupola Basin hut.[4]

Conservation status

The Department of Conservation classifies the Cupola gecko as Data Deficient under the New Zealand Threat Classification System.[4]

See also


  1. Gee, Samantha (10 April 2021). "On the trail of a ghost: The history of the Cupola gecko". Stuff. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  2. Gee, Samantha (31 March 2021). "Cupola gecko population discovered more than 50 years after first sighting". Stuff. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  3. "Mokopirirakau SPECIES COMPLEX". New Zealand Herpetological Society. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  4. "Mokopirirakau "Cupola"". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 11 April 2021.