Marlborough Natural History

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Marlborough is home to a wide variety of plant, animal, and fungi species, many unique to the region, some critically endangered, along with many more common indigenous species and a number of introduced organisms some of which have become serious pests. Due to the geographical diversity of the region, significant habitats include salt marshes, alpine meadows, tussock grasslands, temperate rainforests, and braided riverbeds. According to the iNaturalist citizen science website, over 2,900 different plant, animal and fungi species have been positively identified in Marlborough, with around three quarters of those native species, and there are many others awaiting formal identification. Around 100 of those species are at risk.

What's the difference between native, indigenous, endemic, introduced, and exotic?

Organisms can be classified in different ways depending on how they are distributed, and how they got there.

  • Native species are all organisms that occur naturally without any human intervention, however a native species may or may not be unique to New Zealand, as it may occur naturally in other parts of the world as well.
  • Indigenous species are native species that may also be found elsewhere in the world. A good example of this is some migratory bird species or marine mammals that can be found in or around New Zealand, but are also found elswhere. 
  • Endemic species are native species found only in New Zealand, for example kākāpō. Marlborough has a number of species endemic to Marlborough, ie not found anywhere else in the world.
  • Introduced or exotic species are synonyms for species introduced deliberately or accidentally as a result of human intervention. Examples include sheep (deliberate), and german wasps (accidental).

Marlborough Ecological Districts

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has divided Marlborough up into 21 ecological districts based on soils, climate, vegetation, and human modification. Each ecological district has it's own range of species.

Moss sporophytes, Taylor River


Indigenous and introduced plant species found in Marlborough, NZ.

Red billed gull - Kaikoura coast


Information about animal species found in Marlborough, New Zealand

Chocolate Tube Slime (Stemonitis splendens)


Protista are a kingdom of organisms that include all eukaryotes that are not classified as plants, animals, or fungi.

Amanita muscaria


Fungi species found in Marlborough region.

Wither Hills Ecological District

Marlborough Ecological Districts

Marlborough has 21 ecological districts as determined by a combination of geology, vegetation, climate, and human modification.