Marine reserves are our highest level of marine protection established under the Marine Reserves Act 1971.


DOC is responsible for the implementation, management and monitoring of New Zealand's 44 marine reserves. 

The main aim of a marine reserve is to create an area free from alterations to marine habitats and life, providing a useful comparison for scientists to study. Marine reserves may be established in areas that contain underwater scenery, natural features, or marine life of such distinctive quality, or so typical, beautiful or unique that their continued preservation is in the national interest.

Marine reserves are also special places and can be enjoyed by everyone, offering spectacular opportunities to see rare and abundant sea creatures and environments. Activities such as sailing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving are just some of the ways you can explore what is above and below the surface of our marine reserves.


Marine protected areas

There are three levels of marine protection in New Zealand:

Type 1 Marine Protected Areas: Marine reserves

Type 2 Marine Protected Areas: Areas protected under legislation and provide protection from the adverse effects of fishing.

Other marine protection tools: Similar to Type 1 and 2, but don't protect sufficient biodiversity to meet the protection standard.

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