Recently I had the good fortune to be able to help a scientist friend studying Buller’s shearwaters on the Poor Knights Islands. The Poor Knights are home to birds, reptiles and insects found nowhere else, and one of the endemics I was eager to see was the Poor Knights giant weta (Deinacrida fallai). An adult female Poor Knights giant weta is a massive beast, and I was thrilled to see a couple of them (and a tiny juvenile male too). Although the record for largest giant weta goes to the wetapunga (Deinacrida heteracantha) of Little Barrier island, you would be hard pressed to separate these two species by size.
Posting photos of Poor Knights giant weta to my gallery prompted me to hurry up and sort my wetapunga/Little Barrier Island giant weta photos too, so you’ll now find those in the gallery too.
The first giant weta I saw was over 11 years ago, and completely unexpected. On a weekend tramp in Kahurangi National Park I went for a quick walk above the treeline before crawling into my sleeping bag in the tussock and came across several beautiful Mount Arthur giant weta (Deinacrida tibiospina). In stark contrast to their North Island forest-dwelling cousins, these alpine specialists live in among rocks and tussock, and spend winters buried under snow. The juveniles are especially attractive with their dark, gold-striped suits.