New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu chick
Image: Thomas Hamill | Creative Commons

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


People visiting the Hauraki Gulf's 47 pest-free islands can help protect breeding and nesting birds by leaving their dogs at home.

Date:  19 December 2022

These precious locations, home to many protected bird species including takahē and tūturuatu/tchūriwat’/shore plover, are also popular holiday destinations for day trippers. However, the DOC is reminding visitors dogs are not allowed on any of these pest-free islands – and that includes the beach and foreshore.

“Summer is a crucial time for our endangered native birds,” says David Wilson, Senior Ranger Biodiversity.

“These islands are their sanctuaries where they can relax undisturbed while they breed, nest, feed and raise their vulnerable young chicks.”

Ground-nesting shorebirds such as New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu and variable oystercatcher/tōrea nest around the islands’ coastlines. They have vulnerable nests, sometimes simply a scrape in the sand. Disturbance of the adult birds prevents them from incubating their eggs and tending to their chicks.

“DOC translocates birds to these safe islands in the hope of establishing new populations to bolster the resilience of the population overall. For those reasons these islands are really special,” says David.

“We do get reports of boat owners taking their dogs onto the beach to go to the toilet in the early morning and the evening.

“Some human visitors aren’t aware we have precious and protected wildlife right on the beach, often coastal bird species which have made a nest just above high tide mark.

“These coastal birds can be extremely difficult to spot among the beach debris. Even the smallest and most friendly dogs can stress and scare our coastal birds at this very important time of year,” says David.

Dogs are prohibited from island reserves under the Reserves Act and anyone caught could face an infringement fine up to $800, or a court prosecution, depending on the nature of the offence.

Under the Conservation Act anyone caught bringing dogs to prohibited areas can face up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. 

Anyone who has concerns over people behaving in a way that puts native species at risk should contact 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or call their local office.

Find out where you can take dogs around Auckland visit.

Hauraki Gulf Islands where you cannot take dogs include:

  • Rangitoto
  • Motutapu
  • Motuihe
  • Tiritiri Matangi
  • Te Hāwere-a-Maki / Goat Island
  • Great Barrier/Aotea (all DOC managed land)
  • Kawau (all DOC managed reserves)
  • Mokohinau (including Burgess)
  • Rakitu (Arid)
  • Te Hauturu-o-Toi / Little Barrier Island
  • Beehive
  • Moturekareka
  • Motutara
  • Kohatutara
  • Te Hapua / Saddle Island
  • Motuora
  • Rotoroa


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