Odocoileus virginianus borealis

Common Name(s)

White-tailed deer




White-tailed deer occur in New Zealand on low altitude beech forest and river flats (lowland mixed podocarp-hardwood forest on Steward Island). They are herbivorous browser and need a diverse diet varying with sex and season of the year. They are very good swimmers and can easily reach islands close to occupied areas.


White-tailed deer have a reddish-brown coat in summer changing to grey/brown in winter with a distinct white belly year round (all ages and sexes).They have pointed ears and a long tail that can be flicked upright exposing its white underside. The antlers are curved forward and not branched.

Similar Species

Wapiti (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), Red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor unicolor), Rusa deer (Cervus timorensis), Axis deer (Axis axis), Fallow deer (Dama dama dama) and hybrids between some of these species.

Threat To Plants

Browsing of palatable species, which may alter the vegetation composition and regeneration of these species.


Two main populations: Wakatipu herd (Lake Wakatipu) and Steward Island. New populations on Masons, Pearl, Bravo, Owen and Noble Island.


Weight: 90kg (female), 180kg (male); acromial height: 0.9-1m

Year Introduced

1905 (various locations)

Reason For Introduction

Food and game

Colonisation History

First introduced to New Zealand at Cook’s Arm, Port Pegasus, at Steward Island, at Lake Wakatipu and west Otago in 1905 (19 individuals), while first attempt at Takaka Valley, Nelson in 1901 failed.