Sperm whale fluke, Kaikōura

Image: Andrew Walmsley | ©


The Kaikōura Marine Strategy integrates a number of marine protection and fisheries mechanisms to manage coastal and marine resources.

Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura

The Kaikōura Marine Strategy integrates a number of marine protection and fisheries mechanisms to manage coastal and marine resources. The New Zealand Government has implemented key elements of this Strategy through the Kaikōura (Te Tai ō Marokura) Marine Management Act 2014, which came into force in early August 2014.

The Act establishes a number of marine protection and sustainable fisheries measures in the Kaikōura marine environment. These include:

  • Hikurangi Marine Reserve: a marine reserve that encompasses the Kaikōura canyon area and connects to the coast south of the Kaikōura township.
  • Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha / Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary: a whale sanctuary to protect whales and their habitat from the potential risks from seismic survey activities, which benefits the tourism industry.
  • Ōhau Point New Zealand Fur Seal Sanctuary: A New Zealand fur seal sanctuary at Ōhau Point to limit human disturbance to fur seals while allowing the public to view the colony from a safe distance.
  • Two taiāpure-local fisheries to provide traditional food gathering areas around the Kaikōura Peninsula.
  • Three mātaitai reserves where commercial fishing is prohibited to protect the traditional food gathering areas and allow for recreational fishing.
  • An advisory committee known as the Kaikōura Marine Guardians to advise Ministers and persons exercising statutory powers, on biosecurity, conservation, and fisheries matters in the Kaikōura Marine Area.

The Minister of Conservation and Minister responsible for fisheries may appoint and remove members of the Kaikōura Marine Guardians, an advisory committee for Te Whata Kai o Rakihouia i Te Tai ō Marokura/Kaikōura Marine Area.

The Kaikōura Marine Guardians will represent Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Kaikōura community, biosecurity, conservation, education, environment, fishing, marine science and tourism interests.

Ministers and persons exercising statutory powers will take the Kaikōura Marine Guardians advice into account, where it relates exclusively to the Kaikōura Marine Area.

Hikurangi Marine Reserve

The Hikurangi Marine Reserve encompasses the Kaikōura Canyon, which is the most biologically rich ocean habitat known in the world at depths of below 500 metres. The canyon is special for its geological and ecological attributes and is unusually close to shore.

What protection is in place:

  • A marine reserve of approximately 10416 ha, extending offshore for 23.4 km and including 1.95 km of shoreline near Goose Bay, south of the Kaikōura township.
  • The reserve encompasses much of the floor and part of the head of the Kaikōura canyon.

What marine values are protected:

  • All marine life and habitats within the marine reserve are totally protected. 
  • No fishing, netting, hand gathering, taking or killing of marine life.
  • No polluting, disturbance or damage of marine life or the sea bed
  • No removal of any natural material from the marine reserve.

Recreational and tourism activities (excluding fishing and collection activities described above) are allowed.

The existing launching area at Rosy Morn and a private slipway to the south are unaffected by the reserve and can still be used to launch and retrieve boats.

More about the Hikurangi Marine Reserve.

Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha /Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary

Te Rohe o Te Whānau Puha/the Kaikōura Whale Sanctuary protects whales and their habitat by reducing or eliminating the potential impacts of seismic survey activities used in mineral and petroleum exploration and some scientific research.

What protection is in place:

  • The whale sanctuary covers an area of New Zealand's territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from the Clarence River, north of Kaikōura, to just north of Gore Bay.
  • The sanctuary encompasses 91 kilometres of shoreline and covers an area of 4686 square km. It extends out beyond the 12 nautical mile limit to a maximum of 56 km from the shore.
  • The inner zone of the sanctuary has tighter restrictions on seismic survey activities than the outer zone.

What marine values are protected:

  • The sanctuary provides greater protection for whales and other marine mammals within the sanctuary boundaries from the potential impacts of seismic survey activities.
  • It minimises the risk of seismic surveys causing whales to change their behaviour, such as moving away from the area, which provides greater certainty of whale locations for tourism operators.

Ōhau Point New Zealand Fur Seal Sanctuary

Ōhau Point has the most significant breeding colony for New Zealand fur seals along the eastern coast of the South Island. The New Zealand fur seals at Ōhau are susceptible to human disturbance which puts them at risk. Seals can be aggressive which presents a risk to visitors.

What protection is in place:

  • The seals in the sanctuary area can be observed from the existing viewing area above the colony, from each end of the colony and in the crèche waterfall pond.
  • A portion of the shoreline and inter-tidal seal habitat is a legal sanctuary. Public walking access into the sanctuary at Ōhau Point is prohibited.

What marine values are protected:

  • The restrictions reduce the impacts of humans on the breeding colony and improve compliance and enforcement measures to protect them.
  • The colony is legally protected but the seals are still able to be viewed by the public at a safe distance.

Customary Fisheries

Specific sites in the Kaikōura marine area have been identified as traditional food gathering areas of special significance to Ngāti Kuri.

What protection is in place:

Mātaitai reserves:

  • Three mātaitai reserves to protect the traditional food gathering areas: Te Waha o te Marangai Mātaitai (Mussel Rock), Mangamaunu and Oaro  (see map below). 
  • Upon establishment of the mātaitai reserves, commercial fishing is prohibited. Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki (tangata whenua guardians) can recommend changes to the rules in a mātaitai that are required to be approved by the Minister.

Te Korowai Taiāpure-local fisheries:

  • Two taiāpure-local fisheries to protect the traditional food gathering areas around the Kaikōura Peninsula and Oaro Blocks/Haumuri Bluff (see map below).
  • In taiāpure-local fisheries all fishing can continue until changes to fishing regulations are made as recommended by the taiāpure management committee.

The mātaitai reserves and taiāpure-local fisheries do not affect public access to the beach or marine environment.

Changes to recreational fishing regulations 

Changes have been put in place to ease pressure on local fish stocks and illegal fishing activities with the aim of ‘fishing for a feed and for the future.’

What protection is in place:

  • A reduction in recreational daily bag limits for a number of finfish and shellfish species.
  • A daily limit on the harvest of bladder kelp and karengo, prohibiting the take of red moki and increasing the minimum legal size limit for blue cod and sea perch.
  • Telson-clipping of rock lobster.

Marine values protected:

  • The regulations aim to ease the pressure on the Kaikōura recreational fishery by reducing daily bag limits for commonly targeted shellfish and finfish species.

Refer to the Ministry for Primary Industries website for details on recreational fishing rules for the Kaikōura area including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.

Useful resources

Map of the area

Map of the Kaikōura marine management area (PDF, 568K)

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