The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand says scientists and volunteers carrying out a survey of the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast of the South Island this weekend may have unearthed some species that are new to science.
Later this year the Environment Court will consider plans for an open cast coal mine which environmentalists say will destroy this unique mountain ecosystem.
Forest & Bird regional field officer Debs Martin says about 150 volunteers took part in this weekend's "bio-blitz" to record as many rare species of animals and plants as possible.
She says the volunteers included experts in their fields, who found things they had never seen before.
Ms Martin says if the area is not protected from coal mining some species will be lost forever.