Hochstetter's Frog Protection and Educational Resources

Species: Hochstetter’s frog / pepeketua
Location: Distributed in at least 10 fragmented and isolated populations in the northern half of the North Island
Status: Vulnerable (at risk – declining)
Threats:  They are currently under threat because of loss of habitat, introduced predators and a fungal infection attacking all four of the remaining native frog species
Our work: Predator control consisting of over 300 hectares of bait lines and traps

The Hochstetter’s Frog

In New Zealand, we currently have four species of native frogs and three species of introduced frogs. All of New Zealand’s unique native species (genus Leiopelma), as well as two of the introduced species (the Bell frogs Litoria aurea and Litoria raniformis) have been listed as threatened or endangered.  New Zealand’s native frogs are an ancient group of frogs that have changed very little in the last 70 million years.

The Hochstetter’s frog has a brown-green to brown-red top with dark bands and warts and yellow-brown bellies. Males grow to 38 mm (1.5 in) and females 50 mm (2.0 in). It can take 3-4 years for the Hochstetter’s froglets to develop to full adult size and they can live up to 30 years.

This species used to be widespread but is now distributed in only 10 known fragmented and isolated populations in the northern half of the North Island – Waitakere and Hunua Ranges, Dome Valley, the Coromandel Peninsula, Great Barrier Island, Maungatautari Ecological Island, and the East Cape. The total population size across New Zealand is estimated to be c. 100,000 individuals.

Frog Recovery at the Waitākere Ranges

As part of our Wild Futures programme, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand are working in partnership with Auckland Council and Mondelēz International to help create a Wild Future for the Hochstetter’s frog. We will help the recovery of the Hochstetter’s Frog by:

  • Increasing predator control at key sites
  • Monitoring and population studies
  • Habitat restoration
  • Education

This programme will begin with the protection of a colony of frogs in the Waitākere Ranges. It is roughly estimated that 1,000 Hochstetter’s frogs live in the Waitākeres and we hope this number will grow.

Working with Auckland Council staff in the Waitākere Ranges, CVNZ has built a recovery program for the Hochstetter’s frog. Our focus is to restore and protect their native habitat, reduce the impact of introduced predators and raise awareness within the local community.

The Hochstetter’s frog in the Huia catchment used to be the stronghold population in the Waitākere Ranges. In recent years, though, it has been the colony with the greatest decline in numbers. Plans to establish a predator control programme are now underway across a 300-hectare area in the Upper Huia Dam Catchment, which will include a grid of traps and bait stations installed within the riparian margin on each side of the streams.  This will include a total of 900 bait stations and 45 traps across the 300-ha area, which will target both rats and mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets).

This area is adjacent to the Ark in the Park (a community restoration programme in the Waitākere Ranges), so this is great news for the biodiversity of the Ranges.

Educational Resources

These resources will help you understand more about these special creatures, their lives, threats and what we can do to help them. It contains 18 pages of reading, writing and other activities. Dive right in and enjoy!

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