Some of the more exotic creatures to have been shipped to New Zealand aboard the Wimmera were live snakes, boa constrictors and crocodiles. Not that this was the first occasion these travelling reptiles had landed in New Zealand, for these were the accompanying artists of snake-charmer “Cleopatra” who had first toured the Dominion in 1905 and whose arrival at that time caused some concern amongst Customs officials at Dunedin despite Fuller’s having already obtained a permit from the Agricultural Department. A lengthy delay ensued at that time before Customs head office in Wellington [affirmed] the entry of the reptiles. On the occasion that they entered by the Wimmera in [1907] there was no reported problems with their entry.


On 6 July 1911 the then master of the SS Wimmera, Captain William Waller,  requested permission “to take and export two Tuatara lizards from Stephens Island.”

Tuatara lizard
“Tuatara” Lizard.
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

This was not the first time William Waller had sought to obtain Tuatara. According to the Stephen Island Letter Book, the [Principal Lighthouse Keeper] received a warrant for two lizards for Mr W. Waller, Wellington, on 1 February 1905. The lizards were subsequently forwarded on 28 February. William Waller was at that time master of the SS Victoria which next departed for Sydney from Auckland on 13 March.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021

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