Snakes in New Zealand: How many have been found here?

Newshub can reveal 59 snakes have been found in New Zealand over the last 10 years.

Twenty-nine were discovered at the border - seven of which were still alive - and all were destroyed by border staff, according to information provided to Newshub by the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Thirty of the sneaky snakes were able to slither past the border. Only five were still alive. 

A majority of the snakes that slid into the country did so through imported goods, such as building materials, furniture and landscape supplies, and located at the importers' warehouse or inside a shipping container at a port.

Additionally to whole snakes, 14 snakeskin fragments have been intercepted in New Zealand over the past decade. 

Snakeskin fragments can include a piece of sloughed skin left behind after moulting. This can mean the snake may have deposited the skin fragments inside a shipping container prior to departing an international port.

According to the information provided to Newshub under the Official Information Act, the majority of snakes that have been intercepted are normally not venomous.

Where have the snakes been discovered? 

Over the past 10 years, 12 snakes have slithered into New Zealand alive. Seven of the live snakes were destroyed at the border, and five made it into the country. But where exactly were they found? 

Biosecurity New Zealand provided data starting from 2010, when two live snakes slid into Auckland. One was then found in Palmerston North in 2011 and another in Whangaparaoa in 2013.

2015 was the biggest year over the decade for live snake discoveries in New Zealand, with four sneaking into the country - one in New Plymouth and three in Auckland. 

One snake a year was then found over five consecutive years, with three found in Auckland, and two slipping into the South Island in Queenstown and Te Anau. 

The last snake to be found alive in New Zealand was in 2019, when it was detected at Queenstown Airport.

Biosecurity New Zealand says its operations have been effective in preventing a snake population from establishing in New Zealand.

"We have a multi-layered biosecurity system that involves strict import requirements, checks at the border and surveillance," a spokesperson told Newshub. 

"It is also why we have trained personnel to handle detections safely and effectively."

Biosecurity New Zealand is grateful for Kiwis alerting them of snake sightings, which they say are an important part of New Zealand's biosecurity system. Reports allow teams to act as fast as possible. 

"All reported sightings or interceptions are thoroughly investigated to determine the pathway of arrival, and to mitigate any potential biosecurity risk," the spokesperson said. 

"These investigations are also valuable to identify if we need to make any changes to biosecurity requirements or import pathways requirements."

Tradies get snake surprise 

A stealthy snake surprised Auckland tradies last month when it slipped out of a pipe that was being flushed out on a construction site.

Thankfully, the Ministry for Primary industries declared the snake dead and said there was "no evidence of any further snakes and there is no threat to the public".

A spokesperson for the Department of Conservation told Newshub at the time the snake was a kind of boa or python.