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New2NZ: Protect our nature reserve

Kiwis are rather proud of our green image, with some going to extreme lengths to protect it.

Our nature reserves cover almost 30% of the country and are cared for by the Department of Conservation.


As we're sure you'll want to come back and enjoy another visit, here are a few tips about how you can help keep New Zealand beautiful too:


  • Put rubbish in a bin - don't litter the roadside or anywhere else.  Many areas also have recycling bins.
  • Use a dump station if you are traveling with a motorhome or caravan - you're not allowed to tip your black or grey water in waterways; and use a public toilet facility if you are out and about.

      <= Dumpstation    |    Toilet =>  

  • Don't remove flora and fauna from public places - it's against the law on conservation land.  Take a photo, draw a picture or send yourself a postcard instead.
  • Think before you light a fire on the beach or anywhere.  It might be romantic to sit around at night but what about the mess in the morning?  Do you have/need a permit (ie Department of Conservation land)?  Is there a local or regional fire ban in place? How will it affect wildlife, flora or fauna?  Could it get out of control?
  • Don't bring anything living or once living into the country - it could be dangerous to life already here.
    New Zealand is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.   
    You will go through biosecurity checks upon entering New Zealand to look for items that are prohibited to import.
    It's best to declare or dispose (pdf).
  • Tap water is safe to drink and better for our environment than bottled water.  Different councils treat their water in different ways, so it will taste different as you travel around the country.
  • There are 3 poisonous spiders - the Katipo; and the Australian Red Back and White Tail.  The Katipo you would never expect to see as they frequent iron-ore sandy beaches and are rare. There is however a poisonous sea slug and a jellyfish to look out for in some waterways. (To give you an idea of 'risk' - I have never seen a Katipo or Red Back, although we've seen the White Tail spider several times and been biten by them. I didn't even known about, let alone seen the slug; and have only seen the jellyfish (dead) a couple of times ever.)
  • If travelling with children make sure you know what is going in their mouths - we have a few poisonous plants.  Unfortunately this brochure (pdf) is not illustrated, so here are the top 10 common plant names with images:

    Arum Lily Black Nightshade Euphorbia 1 / Poinsettia
    Euphorbia 2 Onga Onga Hemlock
    Iris Oleander Foxglove
    Rhus / Wax tree Agapanthus  

    "If you suspect a child has ingested parts of a poisonous plant immediately contact the National Poisons and Hazardous Chemical Information Centre Urgent Phoneline 24 hours a day seven days a week on 0800 POISON / 0800 764 766"

  • In the end I like how Leave No Trace (pdf) summarises our responsibility to the environment in "minimising the impact of your visits to the natural and cultural heritage areas of New Zealand depends on your awareness rather than on rules and regulations."


Want to get a bit more out of your visit and learn to identify 10 of our birds?  Try this online course for free or check out the What bird? website.  One of our favourite birdsongs that really says 'holiday' to us is the Tui because we became very familiar with its sound when we started going to the Coromandel for holidays.  Now we have one in our backyard - that sure is one way of bringing the holiday home!


Remember to pop in to the local Department of Conservation visitor centres on your journey and check out their informative website for far more in-depth information about our natural environment.