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Waiharakeke ~
Grass Skink

Oligosoma aff. polychroma Clade 3

This skink was formally known as the "Common Skink" - because it was just that, common! The common skink has now been separated into 5 different species, one of which is our local Waiharakeke (Marlborough) Grass Skink.


Image credit: South Marlborough grass skink (Kaikōura). © Samuel Purdie

These little skinks are found not only in South Marlborough but also in small areas of the wider Marlborough Region. 

They grow up to 80mm long and their tail is longer than their body! 

Grass Skink


Waiharakeke grass skink TJ (3).jpg

Image Credit - Tony Jewell


Throughout this page you'll find some fun activities and resources you can explore

at home with your whānau and friends.

Some of these resources have been put together with the help of our fantastic local organisations.

A huge thank you to those people who have helped put these together for us,

we appreciate your support!

Don't forget to share your activities with us, either tag us on social media

or email them to us at


Ngārara was the Māori kupu | word for all reptiles, Māori called both lizards and skinks Mokomoko. All Ngārara were seen as descendants of Punga - the son of Tangaroa, the sea guardian.

All of the decendants of Punga were seen as ugly and repulsive.  Lizards and geckos were often feared, linking them with Whiro, the atua of darkness, evil and death. Even though Māori feared them, they also thought of them as guardians, they were put near burial caves to watch over those who had passed away.

Grass Skink

Te Ao




 Art - Colour a Skink

Colour your Skink

Waiharakeke Grass Skinks have some pretty neat colors and patterns on them. Have a go at colouring in our own skink, see if you can create those vibrant colors and markings. 

Don't forget to share your finished creation with us, email us an image -


Grass Skink

& Diet

Waiharakeke Grass skinks are heliothermic, which means they like to lay in the sun to gain their heat. 

They eat a wide diet of not only berries and fruits, but they also hunt prey like spiders and other small insects. 


Image Credit - Tom Heather

CRAFT - Skink Puppet

Make a Skink Puppet

Have fun making your very own skink finger puppet! Get creative with the colours and decide what kind of

habitat / environment your skink lives in!

Skink puppet.png
Click the image to download the PDF sheet!
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Oligosoma polychroma clade 2 (Kaikoura).jpg

Image Credit - Tim Harker

Just like other grass skinks, the Waiharakeke Grass skink likes to live in open areas including coastal vegetation, rock piles, grassland, flaxland, shrubland, screes, forest margins, tussock and modified urban / suburban habitats. Often, they can be found hiding under rocks and logs. They can be found in the eastern parts of the Marlborough Sounds, in Kaikoura and in the Wairau Valley.

Grass Skink


Grass Skink


The Waiharakeke grass skink matures at around two years old, it is then that the female goes on to breed. 

Female skinks can give birth to up to six babies at one time! Wow that is a lot, this normally happens in the warmer months in January and February.  


Image Credit - Tom Heather

ACTIVITY - Who's, Who?

Skink or Gecko

Test your knowledge and see if you can work out what is a skink and what is a gecko?

Use your research skills and see what you can find out about each of them.

Website Version skinkGecko Spotting sheet.png
Click the image to download the quiz!
Click the skink to download the answers.
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Did you know that skinks - including the Waiharakeke Grass skink - can amputate their own tails! 

They do this to help them escape predators, the predators can be distracted by the wiggling tail while the skink gets to safety. But don't worry they do grow back, just not as long as the orginal tail.  

Grass Skink

Crazy Facts!

Other Waiharakeke Grass Skink Resources 

Below you will find links to other Skink resources, click the images to take you to the websites. Check them out!

Department of Conservation

Information on skinks online

Reptiles and Amphibians of NZ

by Dyland van Winkel

Science Learning Hub | Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao

Check out this cool video of a skink giving birth to its live young.

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DOC  - Toyota Kiwi Guardian Activity

Help attract Geckos and Skinks to your garden!

Although the Toyota Kiwi Guardian programme has now finished and you can no longer claim the medals.

The activities are still a fantastic way for your tamariki to help support our conservation efforts and to learn about native species.  


Below is a link to the "Lizard Lounge" activity!

Help create a home at your place for our local lizards to hang out!

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Click the image to download a PDF Instruction sheet to learn how to attract Lizards to your garden! 
Oligosoma polychroma clade 2 (Kaikoura).jpg

Grass Skink


So, what are the biggest threats to our native skinks? 

Habitat disruption has had a big impact on them, but what do we mean by 'disruption'?

Anything that effects their normal habitat, this could be things like the introduction of non-native species, like cats and dogs. It could also mean people planting nonnative plants or grasses into their environment. And of course, the damage to their habitat from people either exploring or altering where they live.

So, what can we do to help?

Follow below to find out!!


Image Credit - Make Lemonade Webiste

Waiharakeke grass skink TJ (3).jpg

Image Credit - Tony Jewell

How can you help our Native Skinks and Geckos?

There are lots of ways you can help our native skinks to survive! 

- Avoid catching them, it's ok to look but please don't touch them, and if you do lift a rock to spot one. DO NOT DROP THE ROCK BACK DOWN as this might squash the little skink, just place it down gently.

- Keep your cats inside at nighttime and put a bell on their collars to warn the skink of their presence. 

- Plant native trees or shrubs around your land that they like to live in, and avoid planting non-natives if possible. 

Grass Skink

What YOU can do!

If you see a skink on eggs or eggs like this --->

Please get rid of these eggs, these are plague skink eggs. Our NZ native skinks give birth to live young, they do NOT lay eggs. 

Plague skinks are a threat to our native skinks because they take over their habitat and push them out. Leaving our native skinks with nowhere to live. 

One important thing you can do is always check your belongings for skink eggs. If you are moving house from an area you know has the plague skinks, check your belongings especially your outdoor gear for skink eggs, make sure you don't move them with you into a new area.

1 plague skink was rainbow skink Lampropholis delicata plus eggs_DvW2020_1.jpg

Image Credit - Forest and Bird

Visit a Waiharakeke Grass Skink

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Why not check out some areas near you to see if you can spot some skinks?

Can you find some native ones? Or do you have plague skinks where you live? 

Head on over to the DOC website to read about the different skinks and see where they like to live.

You can get an idea of where they might live in your area, then head out for a look. 

If you live in Marlborough/Blenheim, you can find Waiharakeke grass skinks at these places; 

- Marfells Beach 

- Rarangi Beach

- Wither Hills  

Just remember if you're heading out on a skink hunt, make sure you don't disturb their habitat.

If you lift a rock up to look under it, DO NOT DROP THE ROCK BACK DOWN, make sure you place it back down softly so as not to hurt the skinks, geckos or other species you might find. 

Waiharakeke Grass Skink Gallery 
Images from our most recent Skink event

2023 Waiharakeke Grass Skink Day 

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