Bats (pekapeka)

Bats (pekapeka) are, and always have been, New Zealand’s only native land mammal. There are two types of endemic bat – the long-tailed (pekapeka-tou-roa) and the lesser short-tailed (pekapeka-tou-poto). The long-tailed bat has the highest threat classification of Threatened - Nationally Critical. This means their population is expected to decline by up to 70% in the next three generations.

Many residents of Taitokerau are surprised to learn that there are colonies of long-tailed bats living in forests on the edge of Whangārei. These bats are established in Pukenui and Ōtaika forests but have recently also been discovered in Tāika Forest. It is unknown if the bats in these locations are isolated populations or form part of a larger colony that calls Whangārei home.

Pekapeka-tou-roa often go unnoticed, as they fly at dusk and leave little sign of their presence. They are insectivores catching flying insects such as mayflies, moths and beetles mid-flight. These intriguing creatures use echo location to find their food and can fly at up to 60km/h. Due to their preference for roosting in cavities of old large trees, they are increasingly vulnerable to predation from rats, stoats, possums and cats.

Long-tailed bat facts

  • Dark brown /black furry torso with membrane wings
  • Wingspan c25cm
  • Weight 8 to 14g
  • Roost in large, old trees
  • They can change roosts almost nightly
  • Social animals, living in roosts of up to120 bats
  • Breeding females give birth to one pup per year and carry them during feeding flights until adolescence at 4-6 weeks
  • Use echo location to identify food when flying. Pekapeka emit high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, but can be picked up by a bat detector.

How you can help

Protect native forest in your rohe (area) by undertaking effective predator control. Backyard trapping will also help provide a safer habitat for bats. By trapping outside a core forest area, a wider buffer zone is created to protect the areas where bats are vulnerable.

  • Start small with one or two rat traps
  • Use a trap box to minimise harm to pets and children
  • Form a trapping group with neighbours and friends
  • Find inspiration from within our community by connecting with local groups like Tiakina Whangārei. Go to: to find out more and get involved.
  • Find further information on effective pest control, visit our Pest Control Hub

Check before you chop

One colony of bats can use up to 100 roost trees within their home range, and cycle through their preferred roosts. Protecting standing dead trees and old or large trees helps pekapeka by maintaining their natural habitat. Pease ask for advice before removing large old trees, including exotic species, by contacting our biodiversity team at: [email protected] or the Department of Conservation:

If you see a bat

Complete the encounter form below or call us on freephone: 0800 002 004.