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Contents > Butterflies > Resident > Coppers > Rauparaha's Copper

Rauparaha's Copper


Lycaena rauparaha

Distribution & Status Rauparaha's Copper Distrubtion Map

Common In the North Island it can be found on western and northern coastline, it also can be found in most of the Hauraki Gulf islands and Three Kings Islands. Meanwhile on the South Island, it is found from Golden Bay to Northern Canterbury. It seems to follow a few rivers upstream in the South Island, namely the Wangapeka, Waihopai and Ashley (all the way to the gorge). There is recent sightings in the Kakahu valley and Te Moana gorge, both near to Geraldine. It is not presently known if the North and South Canterbury populations are linked together. It was first noted by Mr Fereday in Christchurch, but it has not been seen in Christchurch for several decades now. But since it's foodplant is becoming a fashionable native bush to grow, it could quite possibly increase in numbers with some good habitat management of sand dunes and reserves.

iNaturalist NZ
Observations map

Scientific Classification More info











Also Known As;

Coastal Copper

Classification changes

All the Copper Butterflies are under debate as to their classification. Presently nzButterfly.info is using George Gibbs classifications. But there is merit in the Brian and Hamish Patrick’s reclassification in 2012. nzbutterfly.info will be adopting the Patrick’s classification in the present website overhaul. This will increase the number of Copper species from 4 to 7.

The Common Copper is split into the Coastal Copper and Maui’s Copper. The Glade Copper has the ‘enysii’ variation becoming the North Island Glade Copper. The Boulder Copper is also split in two with the introduction of the Canterbury Alpine Boulder Copper. Finally the Rauparaha’s Copper is unchanged.

Notes: All links are to the relevant iNaturalist NZ observation page. These pages have the scientific names which are omitted here.

A native species of Butterfly that still needs farther study and whose life history is not well known. (See bottom of page for unanswered questions). It is named after Te Rauparaha as it is found along the same coastline associated with this man. It is the most consistent Copper for wing pattern and colouring unlike the extremely variable Common Copper or the slightly variable Glade Copper, however it's younger stages are almost identical. Like the Boulder and Glade Copper, the Rauparaha's Copper doesn't travel much more then 20-50 metres from areas of the larval foodplant. All the coppers are all suffering from Wasp predation, especially paper wasps, as they are a good source of protein for the wasp's developing larvae. If you live near the right coastline, then attracting Rauparaha's Coppers to your garden is fairly easy, just grow some Wire Vine - Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia spp) and plant a few nectar plants which have flowers at the end of stems as these are more favoured by the Copper Butterflies as landing sites.

Ovum  In English

Laid on underside of foodplant leaves near the edge. Usually located on projecting branches or shoots of the foodplant and on mature leaves. Greenish-blue in colour and look like a tiny flattened sphere with white ridges. The period the ovum takes to hatch is unknown still. I did keep the ovum in the photo to rear, but it never hatched.

Larvae  In English

Velvety green in colour. It has it's legs and head covered by fleshy side flanges (giving it a Woodlouse shape), it appears to have a slow slug-like movement. You need a hand-lens to be able to tell them apart from the Common Copper. Overwinters after 1st instar moult. Since the foodplant is partly deciduous, it is suspected that the larvae move to a sheltered spot near the base of the foodplant and either spend the winter in a quiescence or diapause Feeding resumes when foodplant growth starts. These overwintering larvae go on to pupate in October.

Pupa  In English

Greenish-yellow with reddish-brown wing cases and have pale-brown eye-colouration. But they don't have the black spots on the abdomen like the Common Copper which they are very similar to. They hide amongst dry litter or stones on the ground usually protected by a dried leaf which they attach themselves to by cremaster and has some silken strands in place of a girdle over it's thorax to help secure it. Pupation is suspected to last 18 to 20 days, but this can be longer. They are very difficult to find in the wild, which is not helped by the foodplant as it forms a dense mat to the ground.

Imago  In English

The imago has a 25-31mm wingspan. It has a soft golden copper gleam with a larger patch of copper colouration with fainter vein markings in the middle of the upperside of the forewings, than other Coppers. It has single thin veins which distinguish it from the Common Copper. Also the females of Rauparaha's Copper don't have any blue wing edges. it's not as dark as the Glade Copper. The underside of the wings are variable from the mustard colouration similar to the Common Copper to the brownish colouration found on the Glade Copper variation. There is some sexual dimorphism in Rauparaha's Copper as the females have more black markings on the upperside of the wings especially towards the wing bases. The males have more golden-copper scales towards the wing bases. Flies strongly close to ground in a rapid and jerky flight. If in the same habitat, they can be seen flying with Common and Glade Coppers apart from January when the Glade Copper is very scarce. They usually come to rest on a projecting stem of vegetation or a flower (especially Blackberry flowers). I suspect they have a constant cycle of all lifestages from November to March similar to the Red and Yellow Admirals.


Presently all Coppers are being reviewed for re-classification. Regarding the Rauparaha's Copper, it is possible that it may get split in to 2 or 3 species.
However since the Rauparaha's Copper is one of the most consistent Copper species, I suspect that this will not happen.


It prefers coastal dunes with mixed vegetation. They can also be found in other coastal areas if their larval foodplant is present.

Food Plants

Only recorded on Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa) and Creeping Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia axillaris), but I suspect that it would also use Large-leafed Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis).


Note: there is possible inaccuracies for the egg, larvae and pupation stages as this is based on the Common Copper.
nzButterfly.info has had sightings from late August 2009 in eastern Northland.

Lifecycle of Rauparaha's Copper
Unknown Facts

The Rauparaha's Copper is a species of Butterfly that still needs a great deal of study.

Unanswered questions are;

Please contact nzButterfly.info if you can answer any of the above questions.

Contents > Butterflies > Resident > Coppers > Rauparaha's Copper