The Marine Reserve

The Kermadec Marine Reserve protects the territorial sea out to 12 nautical miles around the Kermadec Islands (all fishing and mining is prohibited in the marine reserve).

The Marine Reserve is home to many species that can only be found in the Kermadecs, making every underwater adventure a truly special one.

Water temperatures average between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius, resulting in a mix of marine life that is temperate and tropical. According to 'A Guide to New Zealand's Marine Reserves' authored by Jenny and Tony Enderby, fish species number at 150. The reserve can be divided into the intertidal zone, the shallow zone, the mid subtidal zone and areas of deeper reefs and underhangs.

At Denham Bay, an area within the intertidal zone on the south-west side of Rangitahua/Raoul Isalnd, several species of marine turtle come ashore to lay eggs. In the shallow zone, endemic Kermadec limpets which are among the world's largest exist. These limpets are often attached to sea-weed covered rocks. In these areas, seaweed eating fish are found including endemic caramel drummers, bluefish and notchhead marblefish. Other fish feeding in this area can include the two-spot demoiselles, blue and grey knifefish, yellowtail kingfish and the black angelfish and grey Kermadec angelfish.

Within the mid subtidal zone, the spotted black grouper can be found. The Kermadec Islands are now the only place on earth where large numbers of this grouper live. Common New Zealand fish including the red pigfish, marblefish and blue maomao can be found here. Tropical fish include Moorish idols, yellow trumpetfish and black-spotted goatfish and hawkfish. Galapagos sharks, mostly juveniles up to 1 meter long, feed over the reefs after dusk.

At depths of 20 meters and below, the deeper reefs are characterised by soft corals and large, hard, plate corals. Orange, pink and yellow sponges add to the bright colours of these areas. Marine mammals including the migatory humpback, sei and minke whales pass by the Kermadecs. Orcas, false killers whales and pilot whales can also be seen. The most common marine mammals are bottlenose dolphins.