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‘Panthers’ spotted taking advantage of NZ travel bubble

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

For Australians and New Zealanders it appears it’s near impossible to head to the great outdoors without stepping over a black panther.

Another strand of shared cultural DNA between Australians and New Zealanders has come to light - apparently it's near impossible to head to the great outdoors without stepping over a black panther.

A recent rash of big cat sightings in Australia has now been met by a trans-Tasman response.

READ MORE: Giant 'paw print' spars panther debate in Blue Mountains National Park

A mountain biker in Hanmer Springs​ on the South Island has become the latest person to spot what appears to be Canterbury's elusive large black cat.

Christchurch osteopath Mark Orr​, 25, said he was lifting his mountain bike over a fallen tree on the 780 metre Perseverance biking trail on Sunday when he saw a large cat about 50m away.

"[It was] 100 per cent not a dog, no doubt about that," Mr Orr told

READ MORE: Panther or feral cat? Victorian photo divides theorists

"It was a cat and at knee height and much stockier than a regular cat."

He said the cat was walking down the path he was biking on "like it owned it".

The incident was "a little strange", Orr said.

The sighting follows two others in September by possum hunter Jesse Feary​.

Feary shot one of them – a feral cat that weighed in at 11 kilograms and was 1.05m when stretched out.

Feary believed it was the baby of another large cat he saw days earlier, which he estimated to be twice the size of the one he shot.

The cat he shot was 4kg heavier than the largest feral cat captured by the Department of Conservation in the South Island high country.


READ MORE: Blue Mountains 'panther' actually a woman's domestic cat

Big cat sightings have been reported for years across the South Island, particularly in Canterbury.

In 1977, Kaiapoi resident Frances Clark reported a close-up sighting of a tiger, but her story was only vindicated once large paw marks and droppings were discovered later at nearby Pines Beach.

In 1996, a large black cat, about the size of a labrador, was reportedly seen by a woman mountain biking near Twizel.

Two years later, something resembling a mountain lion was spotted near Cromwell, and residents of Mataura described seeing what looked like a bobcat.

In 1999, a black panther was spotted in the Mackenzie Country then Banks Peninsula, followed by beasts dubbed the Moeraki mountain lion, the Lindis lion, and the Ashford black cat.

Source: 9News

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