Black coral and butterfly perch at a Fiordland marine reserve
PHOTO: Dr. Steve Wing ©

Introduction

Fiordland’s ten marine reserves border the Fiordland National Park and are a fantastic example of protected natural environments.

Highlights

The marine reserves range in size from 93 to 3,672  ha. In total, they include over 10,000 ha of inner fiord marine habitat.

They contain a huge variety of habitats and species like sponges, lampshells, and a wide range of fish. 

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Place overview

Activities

  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Marine reserves
    Protect our marine reserves

    They are special places that protect the species and habitats within them.

    • No fishing of any kind
    • Don't take or kill marine life
    • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials
    • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour

In this section

Find things to do Fiordland marine reserves

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Diving and snorkelling

Fiordland’s marine reserves offer excellent scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities. There are 10 marine reserves in Fiordland where all marine life is protected, where you can dive and snorkel all year round.

Visitors can dive or snorkel in Fiordland’s marine reserves independently or with one of the tourism or charter boat services available.

Read about diver safety in the fiords to get the best out of your Fiordland diving experience. As the fiords are fragile environments, follow the diver safety and diving care codes.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    The Fiordland marine reserves include a huge variety of habitats and species like sponges, lampshells, and a wide range of fish. 

    These reserves also contain some of the world's biggest populations of black coral trees, some of which are over 300 years old. These trees provide a home to brittlestars, a species that can only live entwined in the branches of these underwater trees.

    History and culture

    Two reserves, Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut, Doubtful Sound) and Piopiotahi (Milford Sound), were formally established in 1993. The other eight reserves were established in 2005.

    Getting there

    Fiordland's marine reserves are found from Milford Sound in the north to Preservation Inlet on the southwest of the South Island.

    Piopiotahi/ Milford Sound is accessible from Te Anau via the Milford Road.

    Know before you go

    Rules and regulations

    DOC is responsible for managing marine reserves.

    Similar sorts of rules apply in marine reserves as in national parks on land. Some activities are restricted or prohibited to protect the marine life in the area.

    Enjoy your visit to the marine reserve, but please note the following rules:

    • All marine life is totally protected
    • No fishing, netting, taking, or killing of marine life
    • No polluting, disturbance or damage
    • No removal of any natural thing from the marine reserve

    Find out more about Fiordland marine biosecurity.

    Recreational, educational and scientific activities

    Recreational, educational and scientific activities are encouraged as long as they do not disturb or endanger the plant and animal life or natural features. A permit is required from DOC for any scientific research within the reserve.

    Commercial rock lobster pot storage

    Because of limited suitable space for storing rock lobster pots in Fiordland, five areas within four marine reserves are designated for commercial rock lobster fishers to store live lobster caught outside the reserve in holding pots and to store inoperable rock lobster pots (with doors open). These five areas are shown on the maps for the following marine reserves:

    • Hawea (Clio Rock)
    • Kahukura (Gold Arm)
    • Taumoana (Five Fingers Peninsula)
    • Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound)

    They are not open for use by recreational fishers.

    Right of passage

    Right of passage through the marine reserve is not affected by the reserve status of the area.

    Contacts

    Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
    Address:   Fiordland National Park
    Visitor Centre
    Lakefront Drive
    Te Anau 9600
    Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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