Phil’s gorgeous gecko image wins gold

Department of Conservation —  04/06/2015

Earlier this year, DOC’s Phil Melgren won gold and bronze medals in a national photography contest for his stunning images of starred and harlequin gecko.

Starred gecko (Naultinus stellatus or Nelson green gecko). Photo copyright Phil Melgren.

Phil’s gold medal image

Phil is a Conservation Partnerships Manager in DOC’s Murihiku/Invercargill office. He’s also a member of the Photographic Society of New Zealand and, on 1 May, he accepted gold and bronze medals at the society’s annual National Exhibition awards.

Phil won a gold medal and the Geoff Moon Nature Trophy for his image of a starred gecko (Naultinus stellatus or Nelson green gecko) in the Nelson area.

Capturing the prizewinning picture required a quick hand on the shutter.

“This gecko would run through the manuka one way, I’d zip around the shrub to intercept her, whereupon she’d stop, turn around and tear off in the other direction. So the image is of her stopping and about to beat a hasty retreat,” says Phil.

Phil also won a bronze medal in the Nature Prints category for his picture of a harlequin gecko (Tukutuku rakiurae), taken on Stewart Island/Rakiura.

The bronze medal image of a rare harlequin gecko. Photo copyright Phil Melgren.

The bronze medal image of a rare harlequin gecko

“The harlequin gecko is restricted to the southern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura. The environment where they live is incredibly harsh,” he says.

The gecko was not the only close encounter he had on the island that day.

“As I was taking this photo I noticed a movement down by my right leg. On looking down I was stunned to see a kiwi walk right past me, totally ignoring me. That was a sublime moment, I’ll never forget it.”

Phil’s been interested in photography since 1984, when he bought his first SLR camera. He got into digital photography in 2006 and joined the Southland Photographic Society in 2009. He’s had one image appear on the cover of the New Zealand Journal of Zoology, in various calendars, websites, newsletters and a book.

Phil accepting his awards from PSNZ President Murray Cave at the 2015 National PSNZ Conference held in Tauranga

Phil accepting his awards from PSNZ President Murray Cave at the 2015 National PSNZ Conference held in Tauranga

He also has a lifelong interest in our native geckos & skinks and loves to be able to combine with his other main passion, photography.

“I love photography as I can create an image. Images are a powerful way of telling a story, they can have a massive impact,” he says.

Phil currently uses a Canon EOS 6D (which has a full frame sensor), Canon L series lenses and most often a 24 – 105 zoom.

The annual Natex Awards attract 2,000-3,000 entries from around the world. Only 500 entries are accepted for the exhibition, meaning having entries accepted for exhibition is an achievement in itself.

Phil’s awards

Geoff Moon Nature Trophy and a gold medal for ‘Best New Zealand Natural History Projected Image’ – Starred Gecko, Naultinus stellatus

Bronze medal in ‘Nature Print’ category – Harlequin Gecko, Tukutuku rakiurae

See more examples of Phil’s photography in the Flickr pool ‘New Zealand Herpetofauna’

One response to Phil’s gorgeous gecko image wins gold


    Congratulations Phil – they are stunning photos. Love the first one – looks like Mr Gecko is smiling for the camera lol.