There are many places in the Sounds where responsible owners can bring their dogs
Access to most land administered by DOC in the Marlborough Sounds is controlled. This is because dogs are known to disturb or kill flightless birds like kiwi, weka and penguin.
Dogs can also attack or intimidate people. Controlling dog access also protects and respects other people's rights to use and enjoy public conservation areas.
Please remember that some DOC tracks also pass through private land and council land. You will need to make sure that you check the rules governing these areas as well.
Why are dogs not allowed?
Dogs can be a threat to a large variety of New Zealand’s native animals. They can disturb and harass wildlife or even kill, especially if they are not under control.
Many of the islands in the Sounds are free of introduced predators such as possums, rats and stoats, and are, or will become, sanctuaries for precious native species like kiwi and takahe. The Marlborough Sounds is also a strong-hold area for Western weka. Dogs can disturb or kill these flightless birds.
Dogs are a particular threat to ground-nesting shore birds. These birds may desert their nests if they are disturbed by dogs, leaving their eggs or chicks to die.
What if I ignore the rules?
It is an offence to knowingly kill, injure or disturb protected native species. Warranted DOC officers have legal powers to seize a dog if it is in an area where dogs are not permitted. A dog may even be destroyed if it is found injuring or distressing native wildlife, regardless of whether this occurs on or off DOC land.
Dog owners who commit an offence may face imprisonment for up to 12 months, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Dog on Department of Conservation boat
In addition, many reserves have active pest control programmes. Traps or bait stations could injure or poison your pet.
Boating with your pet
If you are on a boat with your dog, you cannot take your dog ashore onto a DOC-managed conservation island (including the foreshore) to let it relieve itself, with the exceptions of Arapawa and D’Urville islands.
On mainland Sounds Foreshore Reserve (SFR) adjacent to scenic reserves you need a dog permit to take your dog ashore, you must keep your dog on a lead and must remove any dog droppings. On SFR fronting private property dogs are allowed but owners should clean up after their dogs and must keep the dog under control.
The foreshore includes the entire beach area down to the low tide level.