Pekapeka (bats) are the only native land mammals in Aotearoa.

By Michelle Swanepoel on 21st March 2022

Listed as nationally critical and in danger of extinction, Auckland is one of the only cities in New Zealand that still has resident populations of long-tailed bats. They have been recorded in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges, Riverhead, Pakiri, Henderson and Swanson. Pekapeka are the only mammal capable of true flight able to fly 60 kmph. A bat colony can have a range of more than 100 square kilometers.

Our only native land mammal, long-tailed bats (pekapeka) are chestnut brown in colour, smaller than short-tailed bats and weigh just 8-11 grammes. They produce one pup a year and are important pollinators. As an aerial insectivore they eat small moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.

Pekapeka are active from spring through summer and feed at dawn and dusk. They enjoy:

  • areas with water
  • open areas
  • places that have mature trees for roosting
  • warm nights

Their decline is being driven by habitat loss, reduced food supply, roost destruction and predation. You can help this tiny native bat by:

  • Protecting their habitat: Pekapeka need a place to roost and will move their roost every couple of days. They especially love large old trees and cabbage trees also provide great roosting sites for them. Check for bats before you chop and keep the tree if you can.
  • Protecting their food source: Plant out local waterways with native plants, so that insect life can thrive.
  • Protecting pekapeka from predation: Predators include rats, cats, possums and wasps. Cats regularly kill long-tailed bats. Keep your cat indoors and set out some backyard traps for rats and possums. Consider joining a pest free group in your area. Find a group here.

Would you like to go bat-spotting? You can borrow a bat detector for free from Auckland Council. Please share this bat poster by Community Waitākere to spread the word!