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Kermadec Marine Reserve

The Kermadec marine reserve is New Zealand’s largest marine reserve and was created in November 1990. It extends 12 nautical miles from the cliffs and boulder beaches of the various Kermadec Islands and rocks, out to the edge of the territorial sea. The marine reserve is large even by world standards, and covers 745,000 hectares or 7450 square kilometres. The Kermadec reserve is home to a delightful range of both tropical and temperate species, well-adapted to the exposed environment at the Kermadecs.  You’ll find some stunning underwater photography from this reserve in the MarineNZ image gallery.

Marine Environment

Kermadec.jpegThe marine environment around the Kermadecs provides important links between the temperate waters of mainland New Zealand and tropical waters. The marine reserve extends from the shallows inhabited by the rare spotted black groper to the deeper areas of the Kermadec Trench (3000 metres plus), making it representative of the local marine ecosystems.
Corals do occur around these islands, but do not form reefs, as elsewhere in the Pacific. Large plate corals are formed and these are fragile, and easily damaged.

The waters immediately around Raoul Island are shallow (up to 40 metres), so it is possible to anchor within the marine reserve. Care should be taken when anchoring to ensure minimum damage to the marine life and habitats.

The Kermadec Islands

The Kermadec Islands, lying some 1000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand, are one of the most remote conservation areas managed by the Department of Conservation. They are a chain of islands extending some 130 kilometres along the western ridge of the Kermadec Trench, and consist of four groups of islands and rocks.

Raoul Island, the largest, lies at the extreme north of the group. The next largest is Macauley Island, about 60 kilometres south of Raoul. The rest of the group is made up of smaller islands, including Curtis and Cheeseman to the south of Macauley, isolated rocks such as the southernmost outcrop, L'Esperance Rock, and the Meyer Islands Northeast of Raoul.

The islands, and much of the seabed around them, lie on the edge of the Kermadec Trench, where the large and active Pacific Plate buries itself under the Australasian Plate. The whole area is volcanically active, and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence. The islands are the summits of young, steep-sided volcanoes, which rise some 8000 metres from the sea floor. Raoul Island last erupted in 1964.

The Kermadecs enjoy a mild and subtropical climate. About 1500mm of rain falls each year. Cyclones occasionally wreak havoc.

The Kermadecs are uninhabited apart from Raoul Island where Department of Conservation officers and volunteers are based. They undertake a range of tasks, including weather observation, weed control, reserve and facilities maintenance, and monitoring volcanic activity. As rangers, the staff also have responsibility for policing the rules of the nature and marine reserves. The staff hostel and weather station is based on the northern terraces of Raoul. Landing normally occurs at Fishing Rock, east of the hostel site.

Find out more on the DoC website or have a look through the links below.

Kermadec Islands and Marine Reserve Brochure

Dive at the Kermadecs.

Find out what makes the Kermadecs so special and how it is being managed

Research Paper - Community Structure and Function and Biogeography