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The Reserve

Mamaku Point Conservation Reserve is located 4km north-west of Oban township on the north-eastern coastline of Stewart Island \ Rakiura, which is situated 27km off the southern coastline of the South Island, New Zealand \ Aotearoa.

The Reserve makes up most of a 172 hectares property encompassing an entire headland comprised of rugged hilly terrain, rewilding grasslands, pristine sandy beaches, streams and some of the oldest native podocarp forest in the country.

Since 2005 the Reserve has been enclosed by a 2.1km long biosecurity fence extending from Horseshoe Bay to Lee Bay, preventing the movement of non-native mammals into the Reserve.  An extensive biosecurity grid is maintained both inside and outside the fence , and both the fence and the biosecurity grid are remotely monitored using VHF, cellular and satellite communications to ensure that any biosecurity breaches are detected immediately. 

As a result of the comprehensive biosecurity programme, the Reserve is a thriving habitat to over 127 native species, including at least 26 native bird species, scores of native invertebrate species, and one of the highest concentrations of Kiwi for its size.

Located within the Reserve is an environmental education centre, which in past years accommodated school parties of up to 40. Today the education centre includes a kitchen, communal space, shower and bathroom blocks, and sleeps 14 people comfortably.  The first tenting school groups were welcomed back in 2018, and additional bunk rooms will soon be added so that the centre can again accommodate up to 38 comfortably from late 2019 or early 2020.


Prior to November 2000 the property was privately owned and managed as a farm by the Turnbull family, with the seaward faces used for sheep and cattle grazing, while the higher inland areas remained as native bush. In November 2000 the Dancing Star Foundation purchased the property and set about turning most of it into a biosecurity preserve for native flora and fauna.

In 2017, the Reserve was purchased by a family trust associated with Roy and Rachel Thompson, who subsequently established the Mamaku Point Conservation Trust in order to engage the wider community in their biodiversity, education and sustainability objectives for the Reserve. 

The name Mamaku Point is taken from a prominent landmark within the Reserve close to Nathan’s Island.  Mamaku is the Maori name of the black tree fern (Cyathea medullaris), which are found on the point. 

Mamaku Point Conservation Trust

The Reserve is leased and managed by the Mamaku Point Conservation Trust, an incorporated charitable trust and registered charity, charged with the responsibility for:

  • maintaining and enhancing biodiversity within the Reserve;

  • making the Reserve accessible by the public for conservation education and eco-tourism activities; and

  • working toward the financial and environmental sustainability of the Reserve’s operations.

The Trust is fully responsible for all aspects of the Reserve’s day to day operations under the care of General Manager Antony Simpson.

Please click here for our Annual Operations Report for 2018.


The Trust is gratified to have received recognition for it’s ongoing conservation efforts from the Department of Conservation and Environment Southland:

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If you would like to get involved with our conservation efforts or visit the Reserve,  please contact us.