New Zealand Marine | WWF

New Zealand Marine

About the Area

Cold, nutrient-rich waters occur here, supporting a rich diversity of aquatic plants, fish, bivalves, seabirds, and marine mammals, including sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and a diverse community of dolphins, porpoises, and smaller whales.
Several ocean currents collide near the southern tip of New Zealand as cold water from Antarctica mixes with temperate water from the western Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.

Strong winds and heavy storms are common, but inlets and bays around Stewart Island provide sheltered, calm waters.

These wide range of conditions support a diverse array of species. Some penguins nest in the rain forest here, and it is the richest area for seabirds in the world.

Local Species
The endemic Erect-crested and Yellow-eyed penguins (Eudyptes sclateri and Megadyptes antipodes) are found here. Several other penguins can be seen in these waters including Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus), Little penguin (Eudyptula minor), and Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus).

A few of the other birds are the Shy albatross (Diomedea cauta), Royal albatross (D. epomophora), Northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli), Southern giant petrel (M. giganteus), and the Australasian gannet (Sula serrator).

Marine mammals include Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri), Hooker's sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri), Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus), Hector's dolphin (Cephalorynchus hectori), Sperm whale (Physeter catodon), and the Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis).

Overfishing, sewage discharge, industrial contaminants, agricultural runoff, habitat clearance for construction (residential and tourist), mining residues, oil exploitation and associated pollution, inappropriate coastal development, and solid waste disposal are all real threats.

In some areas, introduced cats and rats have destroyed colonies of native shorebird species (e.g., Kermadec petrel, Pterodroma neglecta).


Habitat type:
Temperate Shelf and Seas

Geographic Location:
Southern Pacific Ocean around New Zealand

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

Is it true that the Albatross cannot walk properly?

Albatross don't walk very well because their legs are positioned far back on their bodies. But they are masters at flying even in strong winds over rough seas, sometimes soaring above the surface at speeds of up to 70 miles (110 km) per hour.

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