Mystery wallaby sighting in north Auckland

While Kiwis struggle to get in out of Auckland, an unwanted visitor appears to have made it across the border into the super city.

No, they're not an anti-vaxxer - this alleged interloper is of the Australian variety. 

A Department of Conservation volunteer thinks they saw a wallaby at Long Bay Regional Park in the city's north - a long way away from not just its home across the Tasman but known wallaby populations in Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

They're considered a pest, and the Ministry for Primary Industries estimates if their numbers aren't kept in check they could overrun a third of the country in the next 50 years, and cause $84 million in economic loss annually by 2025. 

"I've had a quick look around and I haven't seen any this morning," Phil Brown, head of Auckland Council natural environment delivery, told The AM Show on Thursday morning. 

"It's a pretty credible sighting. It's believable, but we can't be sure. It's not highly likely it is a wallaby, but it can have a really major impact so we really want to make sure there isn't one bouncing around out there."

Because a "quick look around" is unlikely to be definitive, the council is using drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras to hunt down the meddling marsupial.

"It'll fly over the park using a thermal imaging camera that lets it see into the bush just a little bit, you can see through a bit of canopy... if that wallaby is hiding out under a bush or something, that thermal imaging makes it stand out. If you're using a normal camera or someone walking around, and they're hidden away, they're quite hard to spot when they're still."

The drones fly low, Brown said, and the resolution is good enough to tell the difference between a wallaby and another jump-happy animal, such as a hare. Other options, such as dogs, are also being used.

A wallaby.
A wallaby. Photo credit: Getty Images

But how did a wallaby make it to the North Shore, when not even the Prime Minister's been able to make it that far north during the Delta outbreak? 

It's unlikely they swam from Auckland's Kawau Island, which has a thriving population of wallabies despite nearly a century of efforts to wipe them out.

"There might be times when people take in a joey as a pet, it gets too big and they let it go into the wild. We think that's possibly how they make these big jumps into new areas. We definitely don't want that happening in Auckland." 

If the wallaby is found, Brown says it will be "humanely dispatched - with a rifle". 

Anyone who spots a wallaby should call Auckland Council or email