Land-based invertebrates

Nelson has its own collection of unique invertebrate species some of which are found nowhere else. Nelson Nature is working to protect their habitat which is highly dependent on specific conditions.

Giant land snail 

powelliphantaThe Powelliphanta snail is the Gulliver of the snail world, with a local subspecies of Powellipahanta hochstetteri found in our alpine tussock backcountry – in particular the Dun Mountain and mineral belt - and in some of our native forest areas. You’re more likely to see an empty shell than a live snail, but please leave them so that the calcium can be recycled by living snails.

Our giant snails are threatened by animal predators, human activity and habitat loss.

You can find out more about their specific habitat needs in our Dun Mountain Brochure (14MB PDF)


Image: Kath Walker, DOC

Back beach beetle

Back Beach Beetle Photographer B Rhode Landcare ResearchOne of the very special creatures of Nelson estuaries is the Back Beach beetle.

This beetle is considered as endangered as the katipo spider because of its rarity.  Until 2018 it was only known to exist at one site in the world, the Tahunanui Back Beach estuary.

However, surveys undertaken by Nelson Nature have discovered this rare beetle also exists at Delaware Bay. The beetle is tiny (only 3 mm long) and lives in burrows in the estuarine sand. Its chief threats are from human disturbance and climate change.

Listen to a radio NZ article about saving the back beach beetle 

Watch a Nelson Nature video - saving the Back Beach Beetle 

Watch a student animation (by artist Natalia Chaplin) about the Back Beach beetle and how we can help save its habitat.

 Katipo Latrodectus 

katipo c. Arnem Littek Inaturalist

The endemic katipo spider is found throughout NZ in dunelands. It is known to occur in the dunes at Tahunanui Beach and at Delaware Spit. Katipo are threatened by loss of habitat from marram invading dunes, trampling from humans and competition with introduced spiders. (Image Inaturalist/Arnim Littek)