New Zealand's first true dryland sanctuary is bringing the lizards back to Central Otago. 

Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary is New Zealand’s first fully-fenced dryland sanctuary, with a vision of restoring to a small patch of Central Otago the unique ecosystem that existed before human settlement.


The focus of this community sanctuary is the diverse and beautiful lizard species that once lived in these drylands, sun basking on the rocky tors and clambering through the scrub.


In late 2019 a survey was carried out to see how well the translocated lizards were going.

Get a behind the scenes look at the running of Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary.

Photo: Anna Yeoman

Photo: Anna Yeoman

Photo: Carey Knox

Recent happenings:

February 2021: 

The first of this summer's babies have been spotted, in the form of two newborn grand skinks! Possibly siblings, these two newborns were seen basking in the morning sun at 'Grand Central', one of the popular grand skink release rocks high on the hillside at Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary. 

Read more of the latest news in our December newsletter here.

Og011, one of this summer's first newborn grand skinks, basks under protective vegetation at Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary. Photo: Anna Yeoman

Get involved:

With grateful thanks to our major supporters:

Schist gecko. Carey Knox

Slideshow photos top of page: 1. Otago skink, Carey Knox.     2. Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary. Anna Yeoman.   3.  Jewelled gecko, Carey Knox.      4. Melicytus alpinus. Anna Yeoman.   5. Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary.     6. McCanns skink. Carey Knox. 

Contact us:

Email Grant Norbury at:


Tel: +64-21-1783604

Central Otago Ecological Trust
PO Box 282
New Zealand






© 2019 Anna Yeoman for the Central Otago Ecological Trust