Visiting the subantarctic islands

Southern rata, Carnley Harbour, Auckland Island. Photo: Peter Johnson.
Carnley Harbour, Auckland Island

All visitors to these islands must have a permit and strictly adhere to the minimum impact code.

The rules are designed to minimise impact on the precious organisms, species and ecosystems.

Minimum impact code

To be one of the few people who land on these islands each year is a privilege and a responsibility.

Entry to the islands requires a permit which is obtained through a consultation process. Permit applications are available from the Murihiku District Office.

General rules

  • All visits must be accompanied by a government representative.
  • Poultry products are not allowed on the islands.
  • Plants, animals, historic or natural features should not be disturbed or removed.
  • No plants, animals or firearms are to be brought onto the islands.
  • Collecting of natural or cultural specimens or souvenirs is prohibited.
  • Rubbish, including biodegradable waste, must be removed from the islands.
  • Visitors should keep to formed tracks and boardwalks.
  • Toilets are not provided at any visitor site.
  • Due to high fire risk smoking is only permitted on beaches or rocky outcrops. Cigarette butts must be removed.

Wildlife viewing rules

The uniqueness, wildness and vulnerability of wildlife encountered must be respected.

  • Give all wildlife the right of way.
  • Get no closer than five metres to all wildlife.
  • Crouch down when close to all wildlife.
  • Keep noise to a minimum.
  • Do not follow if wildlife retreats.
  • Promptly follow any instructions given by the guide or government representative.  

Government representative

The government representative is present to ensure the operator's compliance with the quarantine and wildlife conditions of their entry permits.

The representative has been briefed on wildlife disturbance issues, please obey their instructions as to viewing distances.

The representative has the authority to prevent or modify proposed landings on the basis of wildlife, quarantine or entry permit related concerns.

Personal responsibility

Enderby Island, Auckland Islands. Photo: M J Williams.
Enderby Island, Auckland Islands

It is a privilege and a responsibility to visit these islands. Please take the quarantine risks your visit poses seriously. Please check your equipment against this personal checklist.

  • All clothing, equipment and accessories thoroughly cleaned prior to trip.
  • Daypack checked immediately prior to landing for rodents, invertebrates and seeds.
  • Checked pockets and velcro, looking for stray seeds and dirt.
  • Footwear scrubbed with biocide, before and after landing.
  • Only appropriate food products, no poultry products.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the government representative if you have any questions or concerns.

Advocating for conservation

The Department of Conservation has a statutory role to protect mammals and seabirds and to advocate for marine ecosystems. Achieving these goals is often reliant on the voluntary action and goodwill of those seeking to view these species. The department's guidelines are outlined below, we appreciate your cooperation.


The practice of chumming, attracting seabirds by feeding them, is illegal in the Auckland Islands Marine Reserve. It is discouraged elsewhere because of the created change to the natural habits of the birds and the possibility this increases the risk of seabird bycatch in fisheries. Chumming also provides a potential vector for the spread of disease.


The use of helicopters in the New Zealand subantarctic poses an inherent risk to wildlife through bird strike and disturbance. It is recommended use should only be considered in the case of an emergency or when there are management benefits.

Night lights

Night lights pose a threat to seabirds, inducing disorientation and increasing the chances of a fatal collision. Only the minimum required for navigation and safety should be used. 

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DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map


Murihiku / Invercargill Office
Phone:      +64 3 211 2400
Full office details