New Zealand’s first marine mammal sanctuary was created around Banks Peninsula in 1988, to protect the endangered Hector’s dolphins/upokohue (Cephalorhynchus hectori) from bycatch in set nets.
Banks Peninsula has been identified as a hotspot for Hector’s dolphin on the east coast of the south island. Its many bays and harbours are an ideal habitat for Hector’s dolphins and for many other marine animals.
History of the sanctuary
When the sanctuary was first created in 1988, it covered an area of 1140 sq.km. It extended from Sumner Head to the Rakaia River, and out to a distance of four nautical miles. Twenty years later (2008) the sanctuary boundaries were extended as it was recognised that further efforts to protect Hector’s dolphins were necessary. The NZ Gazette notice for a marine mammal sanctuary specifies the restrictions on activities within their boundaries.