Apply for a permit to conduct an organised maritime event in Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Delays in processing

We currently have a backlog of applications. We're working hard to prioritise older and urgent applications. If you have any concerns contact

Events that require a permit

We know that the Bay of Islands has a long history of on water events. The marine mammal sanctuary is not designed to prevent these events from occurring.

These events can still occur if they’re designed in a way to lower impacts on marine mammals.

You need an exemption permit if:

  • you’re planning to host an on water event in the Bay of Islands, and
  • your event may breach the restrictions of the sanctuary.

These may include but are not limited to:

  • weekly sailing club races
  • events that involve swimming
  • large one-off sailing events.

Involve DOC early, to help make sure you meet all the requirements to hold your event.

If you‘re unsure if your event requires a permit, contact the local DOC office at:


We will invoice you once we have received your application. The processing fee is likely to be $2065 plus GST ($2374.75 including GST). If your application is for a new permit, there will also be additional costs to publicly notify your application.

We will send you an estimate of costs once we have received your application.

Pre-application meeting

Applying for a permit for the first time can be complicated. To ensure your application goes smoothly we offer a free pre-application meeting. We’ll also help you contact the local iwi to assess whether your proposed activity will have any cultural effects.

Contact us to organise a meeting: 

Apply for a permit

1. Complete and send in the application form

Complete the application form and send it by email.

Application form:

Include your name and type of application in the subject line.

Email your completed application and any other attachments to:

2. We’ll process your application

The minimum time to process your application will be 55 working days. However, your application will take longer to process if:

  • your application is not complete
  • submissions are received. 

We will provide you with the estimated processing time when we receive your application.

Why you need a permit

Clause 5(4)(i) of the Marine Mammals Protection (Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary) Notice 2021 requires organised events to have prior approval from the Department of Conservation for registered participants to have lawful authority to breach the sanctuary restrictions during an event.


DOC Permissions Team

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