Visiting the subantarctic islands is a privilege and a responsibility. To enter these islands and surrounding waters you need to consult with DOC and obtain the relevant permits.

Land access

The five New Zealand subantarctic islands are national Nature Reserves and are protected under the 1976 Reserves Act. This Act requires that all visitors landing on the island obtain and comply with an entry permit. The exception is DOC staff undertaking management projects. The permit stipulates which island visitors can land on, specific places they can access, when and who the permit applies to. 

Marine access

Every vessel that travels to the islands must be aware of the relevant marine reserve boundaries and regulations and must also comply with all conditions and permit requirements in the Regional coastal plan: Kermadec and Subantarctic Islands.

Tourist operators

Private companies who take tourists to the islands must hold a ‘concession’ to undertake a commercial activity on New Zealand public conservation land.

They must also obtain the required entry permit, which allows them access onto some of the subantarctic Nature Reserves. Of the five islands, access for tourists is allowed at specific sites on Enderby Island, the main Auckland Island and Campbell Island.  Zodiac cruising around the shore of the remaining islands is permitted as long as the zodiac does not come in contact with the land.

The company holds all relevant permits to cover all passengers on board. There are fees associated with these permits and the revenue is used for conservation projects on the islands, such as eradications, wildlife monitoring and quarantine processes.

A DOC representative may be on board the vessels to share their knowledge and enhance the trip. They will also assist the expedition leader to ensure all permit requirements are comlied with.


All visitors to these islands must, as a condition of their permit, strictly adhere to the minimum impact code. By following this code visitors will minimise their impacts on the precious organisms, species and ecosystems that make up these unique and outstanding island groups. The integrity of the islands relies on every visitor taking part in quarantine procedures to ensure the islands continued protection from alien plant or pest species.

See the minimum impact code and a travel requirements video.


The use of any aircraft in the New Zealand subantarctic poses a risk to wildlife through bird strike and disturbance.

There is a precautionary approach to allowing aircraft access to the islands. There is a temporary restricted airspace (according to Civil Aviation Rules) which means that all overflights – up to 3,500 feet AMSL (height above mean sea level) over the islands require a permit. The permits are issued for landings and only in the case of an emergency or when there are management benefits. 


This research strategy aims to assist managers in deciding on the most appropriate research on the subantarctic islands. It also provides a guide for researchers to indicate where DOC has specific research needs.

Subantarctic islands research strategy

More information

To find out more about obtaining permits, contact:

DOC Customer Service Centre
Phone 0800 275 362
Address DOC offices
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