School of Environment

Geological Collections

The School of Environment’s geological collections are of national and international significance. They consist of five different collections.

Animal skull
Aptornis otidiformis, skull, extinct North Island Adzebill, age - Quaternary.

Access to the geological collections is available for accredited researchers, staff and postgraduate students of the School of Environment and only by appointment. The Speleothem and Geothermal Collections are only available for use by the School of Environment Staff. All access is supervised by the Collection Manager and visitors must wear closed toe footwear.

Access to these collections is not available to the general public. Members of the public can view material that is on display in the first floor corridors and foyer (Clock tower end, Commerce A, Building 114). Photos of some specimens in these collections can be found by visiting the New Zealand Museums website.

Paleontology (Fossil) Collection

Tropical harp shell
Morum sp., Family Harpidae. A tropical harp shell from the Miocene strata of Kaipara Harbour.


The Paleontology (Fossil) collection comprises approximately 60% of the total collection and consists of 19,600 collection lots, c.20,000 individually catalogued specimens, reference collections and hundreds of biological type specimens. It is the largest, best catalogued and curated paleontology collection held by any university in New Zealand and the second largest in the country after the National Fossil Collection held by GNS Science.

The two scientifically most significant components of this collection are the holdings of Quaternary bird bones and invertebrate fossils from the Triassic and Jurassic periods from South East Asia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Antarctica. Other significant components of the collection are its holdings of northern North Island Neogene fossils and collections from classic South Island Cenozoic localities, some of which are no longer productive.

The Molluscan reference collection, whilst not comprehensive, contains representatives of the majority of common New Zealand fossil and modern species and significant numbers of rarer ones. The Paleontology Collection catalogues (collection lot and specimen catalogues) are fully digitised. The active copy of this catalogue and the specimen catalogues (for type and figured specimens) are only available through the Collection Manager. The vast majority of New Zealand and New Caledonian fossils in this collection are from localities registered in the New Zealand Fossil Record File which can be viewed by visiting their Fossil Record Electronic Database.


Aulacosphinctoides brownei, an ammonite. Age - Puaroan (Latest Jurassic), from Kawhia, New Zealand.

Petrology (Rock) Collection

Petrology (rock) collection

The Petrology (rock) collection comprises approximately 25% of the total collection and consists of just over 66,000 catalogued samples. It contains nationally significant holdings of North Island sedimentary, metamorphic and volcanic rock specimens along with a considerable number of from New Zealand’s offshore islands, New Caledonia (especially metamorphic and ultramafic rocks) and New Guinea. It also includes large numbers of irreplaceable samples from economic ore bodies, some of which have now been mined away.

The Petrology Collection catalogue (prefix AU) is available in digital format for sample AU38791 onwards. Catalogue details for samples AU1-AU38790 are currently available only in hard copy, for these copies please see the Collection Manager. These older records are being progressively added to the digital catalogue. Analytical and catalogue details of some of our specimens are available on the national Petlab database by visiting Petlab.

Trays of Early Miocene fossils from the Ardgowan Shellbed, a classic South Island fossil locality.

Other Collections

Mineral Collection

The Mineral Collection comprises approximately 5% of total collection and includes c.5,000 catalogued specimens. The catalogue for this collection is currently only available from the Collection Manager.

Speleothem (stalactites and stalagmites) collection

The Speleothem (stalactites and stalagmites) collection comprises 5% of total collection.

Geothermal collection

The Geothermal collection comprises 5-10% of total collection and includes cores from many of New Zealand’s world famous geothermal areas that were drilled between 1955 and 1965, locations of which are now completely protected.


Key contacts