People and their animals are banned from landing on any of Whangamata's offshore islands, effective immediately, in an effort to boost their status as a widlife sanctuary.
Department of Conservation (DOC) partnerships ranger Rebekah Duffin said the islands off Whangamata - Maukaha Rocks (Seagull Rocks), Whenuakura (Donut Island) and Rawengaiti (Third Island) - had been in the Gilbert whanau possession since 1872 and became a wildlife sanctuary in 1976.
Also included in the ban is Hauturu (known as Clark Island), classified as a Maori Reservation so it is also protected but not under the Wildlife Act.
Together, the islands are classified as the Whangamata Islands Wildlife Sanctuary.
"These islands hold endangered species and a number of rare plants," Ms Duffin said. "The owners of the islands are concerned about the growing number of illegal landings. Every time someone lands the risk of reinvasion by plant or animal pests increases."
DOC and the Gilbert whanau had been working together for more than a year to advocate the wildlife sanctuary status of the islands and a future management objective was to see restoration of indigenous species, such as tuatara and muttonbirds, on the islands.
Visitors are welcome to dive, sail, boat and fish around the islands but are not permitted to land.
They are warned not to anchor close to the shore, must carry a rodent bait station in their boat and any pets on board are not allowed to go ashore.
- Coastal News