< Back

New Zealand panther

Surprisingly, panthers are reported to inhabit New Zealand.

See more below...

New Zealand panther

Mammal, Carnivoran, Felid, Big cat

Taxonomy
Geography

New Zealand cryptid, Polynesian cryptid

Habitat

Mountain-dwelling, Rainforest-dwelling, Grassland-dwelling

Descriptors

Carnivore, Out-of-place, Filmed/recorded, Photographed

In New Zealand, there are occasional reports of unidentified melanistic big cats. Besides their unusual location, the New Zealand Black Panther seems to behave like any other big cat does. The New Zealand Black Panthers range in size from a large dog to a lion. They are one of the most frequently seen cryptids of New Zealand and have many photographs allegedly showing the animal.

Since there is no evidence big cats were ever native to New Zealand, let alone anywhere near it, the New Zealand Black Panther was likely introduced. The lack of Māori folklore suggests it was probably introduced in modern times, presumably in the early to mid 20th century when sightings first started. There seems to be a much more obscure, tawny-furred, cougar-like cryptid occasionally reported in New Zealand as well, but it's often lumped together with black panther reports.

In 1993, a woman was mountain biking near Twizel when she saw a black panther 60 ft away from her on the other side of a canyon. An anonymous poster on Facebook said that in the 2000s, they were fishing and observed a cat they described as looking like a female lion with black fur running across a sandbank on a lake near Christchurch. In 2009, three biosecurity officers in Waipara observed a 4 ft long black cat (not counting the tail) lounging on a fence next to a gravel road.

That same year, a man named Hamish Oakeshott had a black panther encounter while he was hunting rabbits. He was talking to his friend about how so few rabbits were out, when a large black panther suddenly appeared. They ran away, knowing their guns were for small game and wouldn’t kill the animal. In 2016, Elizabeth McMaster was sitting on her porch when a black panther walked past her fence to the direction of a nearby creek 60 feet away from her.

On April 29th, 2019, Juliearna Kavanagh was driving down a road surrounded by mountains and rainforest when a black panther about the size of a jaguar leaped about 10 feet off a cliff and ran to the other side. On October 25th, 2020, mountain biker Mike Orr spotted what he claimed to be a black panther near Hanmer Springs, a small resort town nearly a two hours drive inland from Christchurch. He claimed it was over knee-height and was "100% not a dog."