A mini guide to the identification of New Zealand spiders

It’s one of these books I have an inane aversion to opening.

Even looking at mere pictures of creepy crawlies is not my thing. But as it is so often, I’m at the same time grossed out and fascinated by the leggy creatures that inhabit our environment, no matter how we feel about them.

Andrew Crowe’s guide to New Zealand spiders is easy to use and will help readers identify more than 50 kinds of native and introduced spiders – from the tiny Dew Drop Spider to the enormous Avondale Spider and from the harmless Aussie Jumper to the poisonous Katipo.

The small volume is no bigger than a hand and is designed to fit into your back pocket or day pack when you’re out and about ready to encounter New Zealand wildlife. The spiders are depicted in their actual size as well as magnified, which makes for easy identification. Only the Avondale Spider is so big that its life-size image nearly spills out of the book.

The text is descriptive, brief and to the point. It identifies different spider groups, states where its members come from, where in New Zealand to find them, whether it’s a native or introduced spider and other interesting facts about the animals. It even includes other members of the arachnid family that are not spiders in the true sense, such as harvestmen, ticks, mites, false scorpions and sea spiders.

Andrew Crowe seems to be Penguin’s man for nature guides – besides the well-known Life-Size, Field Guides and Flip Guides he’s also responsible for the Mini Guides to the Identification of New Zealand Native Trees, Birds, Seashells, Insects, Native Forest Shrubs, Native Ferns and Land Birds.

Readers on holiday in New Zealand could easily take the whole pocket library on their adventures and would still have enough room for a weighty novel.

A mini guide to the identification of New Zealand spiders by Andrew Crowe


I started to write when I was about seven - and only minutes later I started to cook. Since then I've slightly refined techniques and discovered a few more words and ingredients, but not much else has changed: Words and food are my thread through Knossos. I was born in Germany where I lived and worked for more than 35 years. There I trained to be a cook, kindergarten teacher and graphic artist. In the 1980s I lived and worked in England and France. About a decade ago I started my latest stint right here in New Zealand, where I worked as a graphic artist, creator of bags and beanies, caterer, writer, baker and cook.