The Department of Conservation looks after about 220 islands (larger than 5 ha in size) and numerous small islets and rock stacks. These include:

  • 21 island groups eg Poor Knights group (Northland), Mercury Islands (east of Coromandel Peninsula), Chetwode Islands (Marlborough Sounds), Auckland Islands (subantarctic islands).
  • 11 islands that are partly reserve eg D'Urville Island, Kapiti Island, Great Barrier Island.
  • 8 inland freshwater island reserves (eg Mou Tapu and Mou Waho Islands in Lake Wanaka).
  • 42% are nature reserves because of their outstanding biological values. A permit is required to visit these islands.

View a map of New Zealand's offshore islands.

Learn about some of New Zealand's offshore islands:

Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands. Photo: Andrew Maloney. DOC USE ONLY.
Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands

Offshore islands that are predator and pest-free are treated as havens or sanctuaries for New Zealand's vulnerable native species.

Water surrounding offshore islands protects from invasions of introduced species that hunt or compete with natives. So many offshore islands have few or no introduced pest species and relatively intact.

Some islands are home to animals and plants that have become extinct on the mainland. Islands are also easier to eradicate pest species from as reinvasion is less likely with a water boundary than on mainland sites.

People can visit most offshore islands, although permits are required to visit some sensitive and special islands. Check with the relevant Department of Conservation office to see if you need to apply for a permit. 


Find out more

Learn more


DOC's 24 hour emergency hotline:

0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

Call to report sick or injured wildlife, and whale or dolphin strandings.