Threat classifications play an important role in monitoring biodiversity and informing conservation actions.

The Department of Conservation | Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) is tasked with managing indigenous species nationally, but regional and district councils have statutory obligations to maintain indigenous biodiversity under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), including to manage the habitats of threatened species.

Nationally, the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) is used to assess species and is administered by DOC on behalf of all New Zealanders.

The regional threat classification system leverages off the national assessments in the NZTCS, providing information relevant for the regional context. For example, a key requirement of managing the habitats of threatened species is to understand regional distributions and population sizes.

ORC has completed several regional threat assessments, with plans for more in the near future.

Indigenous vascular plants

A total of 1242 indigenous vascular plant species listed in the New Zealand Threat Classification System were identified as occurring naturally in Otago. This large flora confirms Otago as one of the botanically most diverse regions in Aotearoa New Zealand, containing a high proportion of the national flora. 

In Otago 227 species were identified as Regionally Threatened (Regionally Critical = 93; Regionally Endangered = 68; Regionally Vulnerable = 66), 275 are Regionally At Risk (Regionally Declining = 50; Regionally Naturally Uncommon = 225), 614 were Regionally Not Threatened, one as Regionally Non-resident Native (Regional Coloniser = 1), and 115 are Regionally Data Deficient. A total of 10 species are identified as having become Regionally Extirpated (i.e., have become extinct in the region). A further 14 species were identified that had not been assessed nationally. 

Otago was identified with 36 vascular plant species that are regional endemics, meaning they are only found in the region. Of these endemic taxa, 28 have heightened risks of extinction (Nationally Threatened or At Risk categories). A total of 321 species were identified as having national strongholds in Otago (where 20% of the population are found in a region). This includes 187 taxa with a heightened risk of extinction nationally.  

ORC completed the first regional conservation of indigenous vascular plants in 2024, in conjunction with a panel of experts including John Barkla, Brian Rance, Dr Geoff Rogers, Richard Ewans, and Dr Mike Thorsen. 


A total of 34 reptile species were identified as present in Otago, including 18 skinks, 13 geckos, two marine reptiles (both sea turtles), and tuatara.

In Otago fifteen species were assessed as Regionally Threatened (Regionally Critical: 3; Regionally Endangered: 4; Regionally Vulnerable: 8), sixteen as Regionally At Risk (Regionally Declining: 16), one as Regionally Not Threatened, and two as Regionally Non-resident Native (Regionally Vagrant).

An additional gecko species was identified as Regionally Extinct.

The region was identified as a National Stronghold (>20% national population) for 24 of the 32 (75%) resident taxa, i.e., lizards (skinks and geckos) and tuatara. Eight of these species are regional endemics, meaning they are not found elsewhere, including the Burgan skink (Oligosoma burganae), Grand skink (O. grande), Kawarau gecko (Woodworthia "Cromwell"), Orange-spotted gecko (Mokopirirakau “Roys Peak”), Otago skink (O. otagense), Oteake skink (O. aff. inconspicuum “North Otago”), Schist gecko (W. “Central Otago”), and Raggedy Range gecko (W. “Raggedy”).

ORC completed the first regional conservation status of reptiles in 2023, in conjunction with a panel of reptile experts from the DOC (Dr James Reardon), Southern Scales (Carey Knox) and the University of Otago (Dr Jo Monks).

Hura te ao gecko (Mokopirirakau galaxias). Photo: Carey Knox 


Two bat species were identified as present in, or near, the Otago region: the pekapeka-tou-roa, the long-tailed bat, and pekapeka-tou-poto, the southern lesser short-tailed bat.

In Otago the pekapeka-tou-roa/long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) was assessed as Regionally Critical, the most severely threatened status, and the pekapeka-tou-poto/southern lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata tuberculata) was assessed as Regionally Data Deficient, due to information lacking so that an assessment was not possible. While the southern lesser short-tailed bat could potentially be present in the Otago region, based on records less than 2 km from the western boundary of Otago and the bat’s flight range, there are no recent records of it in our region.

An additional species, the greater short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta) was identified as Regionally Extinct. This species has been assessed as Data Deficient in the NZTCS, because it has not been seen since 1967, with this happening outside Otago, although anecdotal reports have occurred more recently from outside the region.

ORC completed the first regional conservation status of bats in 2023, in conjunction with a panel of bat experts from DOC (Moira Pryde), Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society (Catriona Gower), and independent consultants (Dr Gillian Dennis and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts).

Pekapeka-tou-roa/long-tailed bat. Photo: Ian Davidson-Watts



A total of three amphibians listed in the New Zealand Threat Classification System were identified in Otago. Two amphibian taxa were assessed as Regionally Introduced and Naturalised (brown tree frog, Litoria ewingii, and southern tree frog, Ranoidea raniformis). An additional taxon was identified as Regionally Extirpated (i.e., have become extinct in the region; Markham's frog, Leiopelma markhami). 

Brown tree frog (Littoria ewingi) Photo: Samuel Purdie