New Zealand became a party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 13 December 1976 and has listed six sites covering almost 55,112 hectares for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites). They are:
- Whangamarino, Waikato
- Kopuatai Peat Dome, Waikato
- Firth of Thames, Waikato
- Manawatu River Estuary, Manawatu
- Farewell Spit, Nelson
- Awarua Wetland/Waituna Lagoon, Southland
Wetlands are selected for the List on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology and need to meet specified criteria outlined in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Protocols exist for the designation of wetlands in New Zealand under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Nominations can be generated by agencies or individuals but the Department of Conservation (DOC), as New Zealand’s administering authority, is required to provide advice to the Minister of Conservation on the suitability of any proposed Ramsar site nomination.
DOC can provide further advice on procedures for nominating sites for listing wetlands of international importance.