Eight New Zealand conservation projects have been named among the best in Australasia after an 18-month search by a specialist panel.

A panel set up by the journal of the Ecological Society of Australia - Ecological Management & Restoration - and the Society for Ecological Restoration International named 25 top ecological restoration projects in Australia and New Zealand.

They include Maungatautari ecological island, Wellington's Karori sanctuary and Tiritiri Matangi island near Auckland.

Professor Bruce Clarkson of Waikato University, the New Zealand representative on the selection panel, said the result was impressive given the relatively small size of the country.

New Zealand had made world-class advances in ecological restoration, particularly pest control and predator-proof fences, he said.

"The idea [of the list] was to spread the word about some of the very high-quality work going on in Australia and New Zealand," he said.

The top projects were a mixture of Department of Conservation-run projects and community projects run and funded by volunteers.

New Zealand projects in the top 25 (in alphabetical order):
* Bushy Park Sanctuary near Wanganui.
* Fiordland Island restoration.
* Mana Island scientific reserve.
* Maungatautari ecological island.
* Rotoiti nature recovery project.
* Te Urewera mainland island.
* Tiritiri Matangi island.
* Zealandia-Karori sanctuary Wellington.