The three endemic species of tussock butterflies are all restricted to the South Island. Their nearest relatives live in Australia.
The common tussock is the most widespread species, occurring throughout eastern and southern South Island from Marlborough to Southland; at low to mid altitude - they are not an alpine species. The species is characterised by an absence of any lines of brown scales across the colour patches.
Sexual dimorphism is extreme in this species where the male orange wing patches are much darker than females. They have a slow, floppy flight in open areas where the tussocks/grasses dominate.
Overwintering has not been researched but is likely to be with half-grown caterpillars sheltering in the base of the tussocks (i.e. the same as forest ringlet).