Primeval New Zealand on One

7:30pm Tuesday, January 17 on TV One

Primeval New Zealand, a place where wild meets weird – and nothing is quite what it seems.

We call ourselves Kiwis. But do we really know where “our” bird came from? The answer is astounding… and rather disturbing. To trace the origins of the kiwi and the rest of our weird and wonderful wildlife, presenter Peter Elliott travels back through time – to Primeval New Zealand.

New Zealand is a very special place; animals and plants that thrive here are found nowhere else on Earth. Many of them also act quite differently from their relatives elsewhere on the planet. Some of our birds walk or swim but don’t fly, while the only native mammal does! Insects grow huge, and creatures older than the dinosaurs still exist. But how did they all get to be so strange?

In Primeval New Zealand our weird wildlife is revealed to be a mix of relative newcomers and ancient lines, the consequence of accidental arrivals, tectonic upheavals, extreme weather changes, extinctions and odd evolutions.

Modern science takes us back in time to when New Zealand was an isolated floating laboratory, pumping out evolutionary misfits. But this science also throws up perplexing mysteries, like why is some of our most iconic species’ lineage older than the land itself?

Tracing the ancestry of our star line-up of New Zealand creatures including kiwi, kakapo, kea and tuatara, Primeval New Zealand also sheds new light on the lesser known stars of our unique environment; the kaka, the New Zealand falcon, giant meat-eating snails, prehistoric giant weta, the rarely seen takahe and unique and unusual penguins.

Using state of the art 3D-modeling and computer graphics from Weta Productions, extinct creatures are brought to life- the legendary moa walks in the forests again, we reveal the scale and attack of the terrifying Haast’s eagle, and a prototype aquatic bird that predated penguins is unveiled.

With remarkable HD-footage of our strange inhabitants and wildest lands, in locations from the far north to sub-Antarctic islands, Primeval New Zealand is a spectacular celebration of the origins of life in New Zealand, but also a scandalous expos? as the origins of some of our best-loved animals are revealed.

Missed Primeval New Zealand? The documentary is available online. Go to and click ‘on demand’.

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