There are other tools which provide targeted protection of specific habitats or species, but are not comprehensive enough to qualify as Marine Protected Areas. Some of these are described here:

Marine Mammal Sanctuaries

Marine mammals have a special place in New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage. Maori have a strong traditional relationship with whales, and many of the earliest European immigrants to New Zealand were whalers and sealers. More recently, New Zealand has been at the global forefront of marine mammal conservation and sustainable tourism.

New Zealand is home to a great variety of marine mammals, with around 43 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and nine species of pinnipeds (seals).

Marine Mammal Sanctuaries are designed to protect marine mammals from harmful human impacts, particularly in vulnerable areas such as breeding grounds and on migratory routes. They are administered by the Department of Conservation.

New Zealand sea lions, Enderby Island, Auckland Islands. Photo: Sam O'Leary. DOC USE ONLY.
New Zealand sea lions, Enderby Island, Auckland Islands

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

This marine park was established under its own Act of Parliament in 2000. The Hauraki Gulf is on the doorstep of Auckland, and is used for many purposes and by many people. Its marine park status provides for the integrated management of the Hauraki Gulf, across land and sea. It contains fifty islands and five marine reserves.

A marine spatial plan, Sea Change - Tai Timu Tai Pari, is currently being developed for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

Mataitai reserves

Mataitai reserves are a tool for recognising and managing traditional Maori fishing grounds. They are developed and managed by local iwi/hapu with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), applying customary management and food gathering practices.


Taiapure also recognise traditional Maori fishing grounds, but they include areas of special cultural or spiritual significance. They are established by local iwi/hapu with the Ministry for Primary Industries, in much the same way as mataitai reserves.

Areas of significant conservation value

Local authorities can identify coastal marine areas with significant conservation value, and set rules for their management in regional coastal plans.

Benthic Protection Areas

These are offshore protection zones, created in 2007 to protect environments on the seafloor from bottom trawling. Other forms of fishing are still permitted, as are other activities such as seafloor mining and dredge spoil dumping.


Find out more

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DOC's 24 hour emergency hotline:

0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

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