Motukārara (Island of Lizards) sits close to the Akaroa road. This mound of higher ground or island (motu) was once surrounded by swamp and takes its name from a kārara (lizard).

Lizards feature largely in Māori folklore. However actual reports of them are not easy to substantiate and are confined to second-hand accounts.

The Reverend J. W. Stack in 1874 records the existence of a 450mm nun lizard in the Waimakariri River area. This lizard is believed to have disappeared with the introduction of mammals such as the rat. The prophet Te Maiharoa travelling over the Waipuna hill trail between Wairewa and Koukourarata is reported to have killed a kārara and removed the tapu of that spot.

It is believed that the kārara featured in this placename was a species of giant gecko now extinct.

Today Motukārara is more commonly known for the annual race meeting held there and the Motukārara Conservation Nursery and Resource Centre established to grow plants exclusively from Canterbury.

Images of Motukārara



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