Of interest to some may be the type of animals you encounter on your travels in New Zealand.

New Zealand doesn't have any native mammals, aside from some bats and marine mammals.  New Zealand does have birds, lizards, and plenty of insects.

New Zealand is a very large farm, as a whole, with sheep and cattle herds standing out in great number. The country has about 40 million ewes and a lamb count of 123% providing the reason you see so many golf course looking fields(paddocks) with sheep dotting the landscape.

Another important agricultural animal are deer and elk (wapiti). As you move though the country you will note many a farm with very high fences containing their deer herd.

On the road (usually squashed) is the possum. Unlike the American opossum, this type was introduced from Australia to establish a fur trade in New Zealand.  It has a beautiful fur and is a quite handsome animal but is a true scourge on the native forests, birds and insects . There is a strong eradication program trying to keep their numbers down. If you hear some awful growl in the night when camping it only comes from the little possum.  New Zealanders hate the possum with a vengeance.

If there is road kill the local harrier hawk (Kahu) will usually be the first on the scene.

New Zealand is also plagued with an overabundance of rabbits - also introduced with good intentions.  Without any natural predators, many introduced animals are free to multiply, and predators brought in to control them, such as ferrets and weasel, often develop a taste for easier prey - such as New Zealand's flightless birds. 

If you go down the West Coast of the South Island be sure to stop in at the home of the giant sandfly at Pukekura and see the thar that are found on the high mountain ranges. Oh yes, the sandfly. You will be readily introduced to them as you step out of your vehicle and stroll those beaches. Bug repellent is a must!

Lots of waterfowl such as the mallard, Canada geese and the beautiful black swan. If you go out to Akaroa the lake you pass has thousands on it. You will see a pair of Paradise ducks, actually goose size, in charge of their territory and will let you know it’s theirs.

The little funny red legged purple-blue coloured bird pecking around near most swamp areas is the pukeko. Then there is the weka a small brown bird that loves to visit you and steal things. Down at Milford the kea is a real terror in the parking lot. This parrot looking bird loves to tear windshield wipers off. Lots around the glacier country too. Pesky little fellas.

Nothing bad such as snakes here. New Zealand does have forests full of wild pigs, but are usually not a threat.

Lots of beautiful birds such as the Tui, Bellbird and the big fat Wood Pigeon (Kereru).  Fantails are common and friendly little birds.  There are many bird santuaries around New Zealand, including Mt Bruce (northern Wairarapa) and Kapiti Island (north of Wellington).

In the north, one sees lots of semi-wild turkeys oaming about along with the goats.

Unfortunately, like too many of New Zealand's native birds, moas are extinct.

Of course there is the Kiwi but it is nocturnal so usually won’t see them in the wild. Other animals such as the weasel or stoat are around. All in all it is an interesting mix, mammals all introduced except the little native bat.

New Zealand has some interesting reptiles.  The most famous is the tuatara - an ancient reptile - not a lizard - that was around the time of the dinosaurs.  Mostly, you'll see tuatara sunbathing in zoos.  There is a small population on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour and the Karori Sanctuary (also in Wellington) that is publicly assessible, and you can also see tuatara at the Southland Museum in Invercargil.

Of course getting away from the highway and taking advantage of tours and some on your own you will see a lot of fur seals(especially along the road north of Kaikoura) and whales, dolphins and untold numbers of sea birds including seagulls, albatross, gannets, shearwaters and godwits.

So now you will know what that is you just saw on or along the road as you travel. At any given time you will round a bend and come upon a flock of sheep covering the road being shifted to new grass go on slowly and enjoy.

Popular Wildlife Experiences Around New Zealand

New Zealand Birds Gallery = http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/gallery.... 

NZ Birds A - Z = http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-...  

NZ Native Animals = http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-...