Striped gecko

Image: Sabine Bernert | ©


DOC must enforce laws that conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage.


DOC is the government agency charged with conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. This conservation role includes legislative responsibilities for New Zealand’s conservation matters under a significant number of Acts of Parliament. 

To effectively administer this legislation, DOC is charged with carrying out a compliance and law enforcement function.

Protecting our species and places

Our compliance and law enforcement role is spread across a wide range of geographic and species related legislation set in place to protect our wildlife, flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine.

A wide range of unlawful activities can occur across New Zealand’s public conservation lands including:

  • unlawful taking of fully protected species
  • theft of native trees
  • harvesting of protected flora
  • modification of public conservation lands (eg land development within marginal strips and vegetation clearance)
  • poaching and commercial pressure on marine species and environs.

Within the wider marine environment, compliance with regulations on interaction with marine mammals and dog attacks on marine mammals are of ongoing concern.

Preventing trade in animal and plant species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement that regulates and monitors trade in animal and plant species to ensure it does not threaten their long-term survival in the wild.

In the past, several arrests have been made of individuals and foreign nationals attempting to smuggle New Zealand’s native flora and fauna overseas. DOC’s intelligence networks suggest that this trend is continuing.

The New Zealand government's commitment to the CITES convention also obligates DOC to monitor our borders (in partnership with New Zealand Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries) to ensure endangered species from other countries are not illegally smuggled into New Zealand.

More information about CITES.

All New Zealanders can play a role

Members of the public are encouraged to report any possible illegal activity on any conservation matter, via the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). 

You can help us by providing:

  • the location
  • vehicle/trailer registration number
  • boat name
  • description of the person
  • photographs if possible.

When reporting any suspected illegal activity put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.

More information about reporting illegal activity

Legislation we enforce

DOCs primary legislation, the Conservation Act 1987, and the following Acts, are the legislative mandate for most of our compliance activity:

  • Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978
  • Marine Reserves Act 1971
  • National Parks Act 1980
  • Reserves Act 1977
  • Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989
  • Wildlife Act 1953
  • Wild Animal Control Act 1977
  • Freedom Camping Act 2011

These primary Acts have several subordinate regulations and bylaws that generate a significant level of compliance activity and include:

  • Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992
  • Whitebait Fishing Regulations 1994
  • Whitebait Fishing (West Coast) Regulations 1994
  • National Parks Bylaws (various at least 12)
  • Reserves Bylaws (various)
  • Taupo Fishery Regulations 2004
  • Wildlife Regulations 1955
  • Wildlife (Farming of Unprotected Wildlife) Regulations 1985.

DOC also undertakes compliance work in relation to other legislation from time to time, for example under the Biosecurity Act, Resource Management Act, Dog Control Act, Animal Welfare Act.

More information about the legislation that guides our work

Back to top