An Asian small-clawed river otter. Waitoreke is most commonly said to resemble an otter.

The Waitoreke is a cryptid from New Zealand described as being otter-like. Its name derived from “Wai” is a Maori word for water. The rest of the word has different translations, but the common one is “toreke,” which means to disappear.

Together the name could translate into “disappears into water” or another translation is a “disappearing water specter.”

The usual description is a small otter-like creature about the size of a cat. It has brownish short fur and short legs. It is usually seen near or in water.

Other descriptions from eye witness reports state that the creature is about two feet long from the tip of its nose to the root of its tail. It has thick short legs, a bushy tail and lives in holes. It feeds on lizards and fish.

In 1868, a pelt was acquired by Julius von Haast claiming it to be a Waitoreke. It had brown fur with white spots resembling a quoll. Other evidence consists mainly of eyewitness accounts of unidentified animals over the last 200 years.

Tracks have been found of an unidentified animal — they were a few inches long with a little webbing.

The Maori people say that their ancestors kept Waitoreke as pets. Accounts from settlers, farmers, trampers, hunters, tourists and scientists were placed in a paper in 1974 by G.A. Pollock. A search for the Waitoreke was conducted during the 1980s.

If the Waitoreke does exist, it would be significant because there are no native land mammals currently inhabiting New Zealand. All land mammals have been imported from other countries.

Most of the sightings describe the Waitoreke as resembling an otter.