Know where local Wildlife Refuges are and what you can and cannot do in them. Why risk huge fines and/or jail time?

Section 14 of the Wildlife Act 1953 states, (in part and slightly amended for clarity):

“While any (Wildlife Refuge) remains in force, it shall not be lawful for any person, (unless specifically exempted), to hunt or kill for any purpose, or molest, capture, disturb, harry, or worry any wildlife in the wildlife refuge, or to take, destroy, or disturb the nests, eggs, or spawn of any such wildlife, or for any person to bring onto the wildlife refuge or have in his possession or discharge in the wildlife refuge any firearm or explosive, or have in his possession or control in the wildlife refuge any dog or cat, or to do anything likely to cause any wildlife to leave the wildlife refuge”.

Clearly none of us want to be sitting in a jail for up to 1 year and/or wondering how we got to be up-to $100,000 poorer. So, knowing exactly where Wildlife Refuge boundaries are in advance has got to be a smart move. Not all of them are well signposted or even signposted at all, in part thanks to road-sign thieves.

Do not cross into a Wildlife Refuge with a gun or dog, (or a cat!), or in any way disturb the wildlife in them. If a Wildlife Refuge occurs on private land the landowner can sometimes be exempted in part and in writing to allow for normal farming operations such as pest control.

Closed Game Areas, (which are listed in the regulation booklet that you should have received with your gamebird licence purchase), are slightly different to Wildlife Refuges. The owner of a Closed Game Area and any visitor having their permission, is entitled to have a dog or a gun on them for shooting rabbits, possums, any other pests or even paper targets. But a Closed Game Area effectively has a closed gamebird season year-round and no one, (including the landowner), should be shooting gamebirds on that listed property at any time.  

If you have any questions at all about any Wildlife Refuge or any Closed Game Area in the Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game Council region, please contact Fish & Game staff who will make every effort to put you right – preferably in advance of any issues arising!

  1. Takangaroa (Goat) Island, Hauraki Gulf.
    Little blue penguin, (grey faced?) petrels and blue reef herons known to nest here.
    NZ Gazette Notice
    Map of the location
    5 acres.

  2. Straka’s Lagoon Refuge, Wairewa River. 
    This refuge by Mr Ben Straka’s property was created around 1967 by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society who built the concrete weir there.  Home to NZ scaup, (our only native diving duck), visiting white herons, dabchicks and other valued waterbirds. 
    NZG 07.12.67, No80, p2205.
    9 acres.

  3. Papakanui Spit only, Waionui Inlet, Kaipara Harbour.
    NZ Dotterel breeding habitat.
    NZG 20.09.56, No52, p1292.
    7 acres.

  4. Rosedale Watercare, Albany. 
    The designation covers both sides of the motorway.  NZ scaup, Canada geese, Australasian shoveler, dabchick and other waterbirds use this area.
    NZG25.05.61, No34, p733.
    269 acres.

  5. Puhinui Creek, Manukau Harbour.
    This refuge was created to lure valued wildlife away from the then new international airport where they were a risk to aircraft, (and visa-versa!). Royal spoonbills sometimes use this refuge as shelter in high winds.
    NZG 24.09.64, No58, p1587.
    116 hectares.

  6. Ponui (Chamberlain’s) Island, Hauraki Gulf.
    Kiwi were released on this refuge several times and are now established there.
    NZG 09.07.64, No42, p1108.
    4,373 acres.

  7. ‘Ngaheretuka’ Bush Reserve, Clevedon. 
    This bush block was gifted by Hugh Alexander in 1949 to the Royal Forest and Bird Society. Its Māori name means “bush gift”.
    NZG 10.12.59, No76, p1884.
    37 acres.

  8. Lake Pokorua, Waiuku.
    Originally Gazetted by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society in 1942 to protect then newly released mallard ducks. Bittern and fernbird known to use this area which is also popular with black swans.
    NZG 09.07.42, No68, p1889.
    34 hectares.

  9. Pukekohe Watercare, Parker’s Lane, Pukekohe/Tuakau.
    Only the old pond of this is currently Wildlife Refuge.  Home to a large number of dabchicks in particular, as well as bitterns, royal spoonbills, Australasian shoveler, brown teal, grey teal, black swan, Canada geese and large numbers of mallards that it holds in this area.
    NZG 19.10.61, No66, p1607.
    33 acres.

  10. Murrays Road, Pukekawa.
    This was created as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1917 to protect, under that legislation “native and imported game” but in particular newly released pheasants.  It has since been remade into a Wildlife Refuge in 1960 which protects all wildlife from disturbance. However, this is currently under review.
    NZG 08.12.60, No81, p1918.
    1,315 acres.

Miranda-Taramaire Wildlife Refuge.
NZG 09.04.87, No52, p1627.
22.8267 hectares.

Lake Kopuera, (previously known as Lake Rangiriri), in Rangiriri.
NZG  23.04.81, No46, p1132.
83.4500 hectares.

Te Kauwhata Wildlife Refuge.
NZG 15.06.61, No38, p837.
1,020 acres.

Lake Waikare (part only).
NZG 26.05.88, No89, p1266.
Area not given.

Wharekawa Harbour, northern entrance tip, Whangamata North, Coromandel.
NZG 26.10.67, No68, p1857, also NZG 17.11.83, No1982, p4010.
16 acres.

Lake Hakanoa, Huntly.
NZG 01.12.19833, No202, p4169 and others.
67.6450 hectares plus additions.

Lake E, (Hurrell’s Lake), part only, near Hamilton.
NZG 03.06.65, No31, p902.
8.0100 hectares.

Raglan Watercare Waste Water Treatment Plant.
NZG 16.05.57, No38, p825.
59 acres.

A.C. Allen Estate, Horrell Road, Morrinsville.
NZG 28.09.61, No61, p1481.
540 acres.

Water Conservation Reserve, Waterworks Road, Morrinsville.
NZG 04.04.40, No30, p649 and NZG 14.11.40, N116, p3413.  
101 acres.

‘Wharepuhunga’, private farm off Lethbridge Road, near Otorohanga.
NZG 07.08.58, No48, p1027.
572 acres.

Cowan Wildlife Refuge, east of Te Kuiti.
NZG 18.04.85, No69, p1662.
1,253.9690 hectares.

Meyer Wildlife Refuge.
NZG Not known.
476.4162 hectares.

Takangaroa (Goat) Island.
NZG no. 10, 8 February 1962, p. 250
5 acres

Straka’s Lagoon.
NZG no. 80, 1967, p.2205
9 acres

Papakanui Spit.
NZG no. 52, 20 September 1956, p. 1292
7 acres

Albany Watercare
NZG no. 34, 25 May 1961, p. 1884
269 acres

Puhinui Creek
NZG no. 59, 24 September 1964, p. 1587

Ponui Island
NZG no. 42, 9 July 1964, p. 1108
4.373 acres

NZG no. 76, 10 December 1959, p. 1884
37 acres

Lake Pokorua
NZG no. 68, 9 July 1940, p. 1889

Pukekohe Watercare, a & b.
NZG no. 16 October 1961, p. 1607


Murrays Rd, Pukekawa.




Te Kauwhata


Lake Kopuera


Lake Waikare (Be sure to include the bit where Helen Calrk says “God Save The Queen”).


Wharekawa entrance tip.  (a & b, in 2 parts).

Lake Hakanoa


Lake E/Hurrell’s.




AC Allen Morrinsville


Morrinsville Waterworks