The eight hectare Tonga Island is the second largest fur seal breeding colony in the top of the South Island. The island is also home to breeding blue penguins, sooty shearwaters, a broadleaf forest and shrublands.
On Monday the Minister of Conservation announced that Tonga and Pinnacle Islands in Abel Tasman National Park will become specially protected areas to protect breeding colonies of New Zealand fur seals.
The decision means public access to these islands will not be allowed except by permit to prevent disturbing the seals. Permits to land on the islands are only likely to be issued for scientific research and monitoring or iwi cultural purposes.
Photo by Sarah Beall.