Does New Zealand have Dangerous Spiders? Explained and Why

New Zealand is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.  So what could stop you?  Poisonous spiders?  That’s no excuse. 

New Zealand does not have any venomous spiders that will kill you. There are three spiders to avoid: the katipō, the redback spider and the white-tailed spider.  They can make you sick, but you won’t die!

If you have a fear of spiders, then New Zealand is a great place to cure it.  Here’s why.

Why are there no dangerous spiders in New Zealand?

New Zealand certainly has lots of spiders. 

It is estimated that there are more than 2000 different spider species in New Zealand, but only 1157 have been “described,” of which 97 percent are unique to our islands.

But why aren’t they harmful?  

A key predator for spiders is that there is only one mammal native to New Zealand, a tiny bat, but plenty of birds prey on spiders.  

However, there is little need for spiders to protect themselves from birds due to the high volume of food available in the ecosystem, traditionally primarily forested.

What makes New Zealand different from Australia when it comes to spiders?

New Zealand consists of isolated islands that split off from Gondwanaland 85 million years ago.  That means New Zealand and Australia became separated before snakes got to Australia.  

Then most of New Zealand’s fauna was lost during glacial changes and due to the land being submerged.  Today most New Zealand animals are birds, and insects are those that arrived later. 

That’s why New Zealand has no native snakes, no native mammals other than bats, and very few vertebrates other than birds. 

The redback spider has been introduced to New Zealand from Australia. 

They have been established in limited areas in New Zealand since the early 1980s.  Today the New Zealand government puts a lot of energy into keeping out pests that will destroy biodiversity. 

Which New Zealand spiders can hurt me?

The katipō and red-back spider have poisonous bites, though that’s only the adult females.  Symptoms of a bite include such things as sweating, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.

Katipō bites are extremely painful and make you feel like you might die, but you won’t!

Redback bites are also very unpleasant, with symptoms such as sweating, pain and possible stomach cramps.  But again, you won’t die.

These spiders are relatively rare, and anti-venom is available for both the katipō and the redback spider bites. 

The more common white-tailed spider bite can be painful, with some initial swelling, redness, itchiness and a burning feeling at the bite site. These symptoms will pass, and there are no long-lasting effects.

In the past one hundred years, there have been no reports of deaths from New Zealand spiders. 

Globally it is estimated that there are only 30 spiders in the world that can kill humans, of the many tens of thousands of species of spiders. 

What to do if you get bitten by a New Zealand spider?

If you are bitten by a  katipō or red-back spider, you may get symptoms like sweating, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever shortly after. 

These symptoms can generally be managed at home with oral pain relief such as. If symptoms were to become more severe seek medical attention.

You can generally manage these symptoms yourself, with painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.  Seek medical attention if symptoms get more severe.

Check out the Ministry of Health’s website for more information

Or call the poison center, which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 764 766 for advice on first aid and treatment of bites.

It’s a good idea to clean the wound with antiseptic or warm soapy water, then place ice or a cooling pad on the bite before traveling.

Don’t apply pressure to the wound. 

Some spiders will bite without inserting venom, which means you’ll be better in no time. 

If you suspect you have been bitten by a white-tailed spider, only simple first aid is necessary.  

Naturally, we all respond differently to these situations.  The important thing is – don’t panic.  Call for medical advice and follow these simple instructions.

katipo spider com
Katipō Spider
redback spider comp
Redback Spider

Does New Zealand have dangerous snakes? Find out more here.

The word Katipō means ‘night-stinger’ in the Māori language.  It is a shy creature usually found on warm sandy beaches and dunes under grasses and other vegetation, stones, driftwood and other debris. 

The katipō  (Latrodectus katipo) is a small to a medium-sized spider, with the female having a round black or brown pea-sized body. Red katipō females have a distinctive red stripe bordered in white. The male is much smaller than the female and quite different in appearance: white with black stripes and red diamond-shaped markings.

Female Redback Spiders (Latrodectus hasselti) have black rounded bodies with slender legs and a white-bordered orange to red jagged stripe on their back and a red hourglass mark underneath. Adult males are slender with a cream abdomen with brown stripes and juveniles have additional white markings on the abdomen.

The redback spider and the katipō are both related to the American Black Widow spider. 

The important thing is not to worry if you think a spider has bitten you  You will come to no serious harm. 

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    This post contains affiliate links.New Zealand is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.  So what could stop you?  Poisonous spiders?  That’s no excuse.  New Zealand does not have any venomous spiders that will kill … Read more