Goat Island Marine Reserve

New Zealand has 44 marine reserves (as of August 2020) spread around the North, the South Island, and neighbouring islands, and on outlying island groups. They are governed by the Marine Reserves Act 1971 and administered by the Department of Conservation with assistance from the Ministry of Fisheries, New Zealand Customs and the New Zealand Defence Forces.[1]


The Marine Reserves Act was passed by the Parliament of New Zealand in 1971. In 2000, the Department of Conservation started a review of the Act, resulting in a draft Marine Reserves Bill that was introduced into Parliament in June 2002, but has not yet been voted on.[2]

The first marine reserve to be created was the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve.[3] The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve was established next, although with only a partial ban on fishing; a full ban was implemented in 1998. The first two marine reserves in Fiordland were established at the request of New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen in 1993.[4] An additional eight reserves were established in Fiordland on the recommendation of the Guardians of Fiordland in 2005.[5] The Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve was established in 2006 with the active support of the students and faculty of nearby Kamo High School.[4][6]


The abundance of fish within the reserves creates spillover, or larval export, that boosts catches in neighbouring areas.[4] In general, the reserves tend to attract a lot of recreational divers and fishermen. The divers are attracted to the abundant fish, coral, etc. inside the reserves. The fishermen are attracted to the areas just outside the reserves – where spillover creates an abundance of large game fish not found in other areas.

The Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, in particular, receives more than 200,000 visitors per year. It is a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba-divers, due to the abundance and diversity of fish now living within the reserve after over 30 years of protection.[1] Species that can be found in the reserve include Australasian snapper and New Zealand sea urchin (kina).[4]

List of reserves

List of marine reserves in New Zealand
Name Image Map Area (ha)[7] Date created Notes
Akaroa Marine Reserve Map 512 2014 Covers an area around the eastern side of the entrance to Akaroa Harbour, known for marine mammals including Hector's dolphins, whales, and seals.[8]
Auckland Islands - Motu Maha Marine Reserve Map 498,000 2003 Covers a range of marine environments in the water around the Auckland Islands.
Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve Map 547 1975 The first marine reserve to be established in New Zealand.
Hautai Marine Reserve[9] Map 853 2014 Located in a remote corner of New Zealand's West Coast, making it the most remote marine reserve on New Zealand's main archipelago.
Hawea (Clio Rocks) Marine Reserve Map 411 2005 Covers the inner reaches of Hāwea / Bligh Sound.
Hikurangi Marine Reserve[10] Map 10,416 2014 Deepest marine reserve around the mainland of New Zealand, covering a large area of the Kaikōura Canyon and Hikurangi Trench.
Horoirangi Marine Reserve Map 904 2005 Also known as the Glenduan Marine Reserve, covers the eastern side of Tasman Bay and protects a unique transition zone with a range of reef-dwelling species.
Kahukura (Gold Arm) Marine Reserve Map 464 2005 Protects the entirety of the Gold Arm of Taiporoporo / Charles Sound, which includes a range of red and black corals[11]
Kahurangi Marine Reserve[12] Map 8,419 2014
Kapiti Marine Reserve Map 2,167 1992
Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve Map 748,000 1990
Kutu Parera (Gaer Arm) Marine Reserve Map 433 2005
Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve Map 980 1995
Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve Map 619 1993
Moana Uta (Wet Jacket Arm) Marine Reserve Map 2,007 2005
Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve Map 501 1995
Moutere Hauriri / Bounty Islands Marine Reserve[13][14] Map 104,626 2014
Moutere Ihupuku / Campbell Island Marine Reserve[13][14] Map 290,000 2014
Moutere Mahue / Antipodes Island Marine Reserve[13][14] Map 217,287 2014
Parininihi Marine Reserve Map 1,844 2006
Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve Map 690 1993
Pohatu Marine Reserve (Flea Bay) Map 215 1999
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve Map 1,890 1981
Punakaiki Marine Reserve[15] Map 3,520 2014
Taipari Roa (Elizabeth Island) Marine Reserve Map 613 2005
Tapuae Marine Reserve Map 1,404 2008
Taputeranga Marine Reserve Map 855 2008
Taumoana (Five Finger Peninsula) Marine Reserve Map 1,466 2005
Tauparikākā Marine Reserve[16] Map 17 2014
Tāwharanui Marine Reserve[17] Map 394 2011
Te Angiangi Marine Reserve Map 446 1997
Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve Map 93 1993
Te Hapua (Sutherland Sound) Marine Reserve Map 449 2005
Te Matuku Marine Reserve Map 690 2005
Te Paepae o Aotea (Volkner Rocks) Marine Reserve Map 1,267 2006
Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound) Marine Reserve Map 3,672 2005
Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve Map 2,452 1999
Tonga Island Marine Reserve Map 1,835 1993
Tuhua (Mayor Island) Marine Reserve Map 1,060 1992
Ulva Island - Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve Map 1,075 2004
Waiau Glacier Coast Marine Reserve[18] Map 4,557 2014
Westhaven (Te Tai Tapu) Marine Reserve Map 536 1994
Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve Map 840 1993
Whangarei Harbour Marine Reserve Map 237 2006 Protects two separate areas within Whangārei Harbour: an intertidal mudflat and mangrove forest at Waikaraka, and the waters around Motukaroro / Passage Island. Was established following efforts by students from Kamo High School.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b Enderby, Jenny & Tony (2006). A guide to New Zealand's marine reserves. NZ: New Holland Publishers. ISBN 978-1-86966-114-4.
  2. ^ "Review of the Marine Reserves Act 1971". Department of Conservation. May 2001. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  3. ^ Department of Conservation – Marine reserves A–Z
  4. ^ a b c d Warne, Kennedy. Blue Haven: New Zealand marine reserves are a model for the world National Geographic Magazine April 2007.
  5. ^ New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). "Hawea (Clio Rocks): Fiordland marine reserves". Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  6. ^ Lynch, Brigid (19 October 2006). "Marine reserve created by young enthusiasm". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Data Table - Protected Areas - LINZ Data Service (recorded areas of all marine reserves established in New Zealand)". Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Akaroa Marine Reserve". www.doc.govt.nz. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  9. ^ "Hautai Marine Reserve: West Coast places to visit". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Hikurangi Marine Reserve: Places to go in Marlborough". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Kahukura (Gold Arm) Marine Reserve". www.doc.govt.nz. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  12. ^ "Kahurangi Marine Reserve: West Coast places to visit". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill 2011 (2013 No 310-2)". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  14. ^ a b c "Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill". New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Punakaiki Marine Reserve: West Coast places to visit". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Tauparikākā Marine Reserve: West Coast places to visit". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Tāwharanui Marine Reserve: Places to go in Auckland". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Waiau Glacier Coast Marine Reserve: West Coast places to visit". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  19. ^ Lynch, Brigid (22 July 2023). "Marine reserve created by young enthusiasm". NZ Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2023.