A new species of cave weta has been discovered on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau.

The Denniston white-faced weta has distinctive white markings behind its head.

More work needed to be done to determine its genus, but a distinctive DNA sequence, the combination of spines on the legs and the shape of the females' subgenital plate all indicated it was a species new to science, Massey University evolutionist Steve Trewick said.

Dr Trewick discovered the weta in March and since then a group of Massey University professors have been researching and classifying it.


"It just stood out. We haven't seen anything with that appearance and colouration.

"Males and females are almost black with an unusual, prominent white marking behind their head," Dr Trewick said.

The plateau's unique geological composition and unusual weather conditions created ecosystems which supported wildlife found nowhere else in the world, Dr Trewick said.

A new species of day-flying moth, the Avator Moth, was also discovered on the plateau earlier this year.