Dactylocnemis pacificus is not known to co-exist with other members of the D. pacificus species-complex, but northern distribution limit poorly understood.
The second species of New Zealand gecko to be described (Gray 1842). The scientific name may either mean 'peaceful' or the species' occurance in the "South Sea Islands" (type locality data from Gray 1842). This species has almost always been known as Hoplodactylus pacificus. However many other taxa, particularly geckos of the H. maculatus species-complex (now Woodworthia), including H. chrysosireticus (W. chrysosireticus) and H. stephensi (=Toropuku stephensi) and even the distinctive H. duvaucelii and H. granulatus (=Mokopirirakau granulatus) have been included under the same name throughout its history (Hitchmough 1997).
Dactylocnemis pacificus may easily be confused with the goldstripe gecko, W. chrysosireticus or common gecko, W. maculatus but rostral scale contacts the nostrils, whereas it does not for the latter two species.
About 20-25% of individuals in many populations have a bight mustard-yellow crescent on the nape of the neck, and often also with blotches of the same colour along body and tail. This marking is believed to be caused by a single locus recessive allele (Rowlands 1976).
A medium, slender gecko (60-80 mm SVL, total length 170 mm, 7-18 g, mean 7.4 g, Towns 1991). Dorsal surface brown, grey or olive with highly variable bands, blotches, chevrons or stripes. V-shaped marking on top of head between eyes, diffuse pale stripe from eye-to-ear, diffuse denticulate markings on lips. Sometimes with a bright mustard-yellow patch across nape, and additional blotches of the same colour may occur along the body and tail. Occasionally with pink or orange shadings. Ventral surface uniform. Mouth lining and tongue pink. Eye brown. Snout-to-eye distance distinctly greater than eye-to-ear distance, indicating this species has a slightly longer, shallower snout than soecies in the Woodworthia genera, especially W. maculatus. Size between 65-80mm SVL. Rostral in contact with nostril. Toes have extended pads, but are more slender with narrower distal phalange. Upper labial scales 9-16, lower labial scales 8-14, pointed cloacal spurs in series of 3-4, precloacal pores do not extend onto limbs, lamellae 10-16. Tail robust, often regrown (Hitchmough 1997, R. Hitchmough pers. comm. in Jewell 2008).
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