Safety Up Close
Safety in the Water
Safety on Land

Encounter Guidelines

Safety on Land

If you see pakake

Always stay 20 metres away (60 feet).

This is the minimum distance to view any pinniped from. Leaving ample room between yourself and a pinniped ensures your safety and reduces the chance you will disturb them. It is against the law to disturb or harass any pinniped.

If it becomes active

Slowly back further away.

This will help avoid catching their interest. Pakake are very social animals and can be very active on land. It is important to maintain your distance if pakake are active so that they do not approach you. Moving slowly also helps to reduce interest from pakake.

If you have a dog

Keep it 20 metres away from pakake and on lead.

We recommend keeping any dog on a lead within 100 metres of wildlife, to ensure it is not tempted to approach it. When walking dogs in areas where pakake might be present it is important to remain alert.

Encountering pakake/sea lions is a special privilege
It is important to respect the space of this endangered species
Follow these tips to ensure the wellbeing of pakake and your safety
Know before you go

Make sure you are familiar with the rules for dogs at the location you want to visit and check if any wildlife is regularly seen there.

Come prepared

Always carry a lead (it's the law). Also, bring toys or treats to help keep your dog focused on you.

Practice makes perfect

Building your relationship with your dog through training is the key to trustworthy recall. Practice for encounters on every walk to stay ready.

Be Aware

Wildlife can be anywhere. Always check for wildlife before letting your dog off the lead and be on the lookout for hard to spot wildlife.

Keep them close

Keep your dog within seeing and hearing distance so it can respond to you. Make sure your dog only uses areas you've checked for wildlife.

Spread the word

Let others know if you have spotted wildlife nearby. Keeping others aware and setting a good example helps to keep wildlife safe.

Here are our top tips for dog owners
Learn more from our friends at Lead the Way

Safety in the Water

Pakake/sea lions are curious and inquisitive creatures
They often approach people who are in the water
Follow these tips to keep you both safe
In the water

Stay calm, stay still and wait.

This will help to reduce their interest in you and ensure your safety. Pakake often approach simply to check you out. If you are boring they are likely to leave.

If it does not lose interest in you after waiting a few minutes, move slowly out of the water. Remember pakake investigate the world with their mouths so try to avoid any interaction and never try to touch a pakake.

Safety Up Close

Pakake/sea lions are usually curious and rarely aggressive
The coast is where they play, breed, and raise pups
Follow these tips if one approaches you

Stay calm, back away, and never engage.

If you are boring to pakake they will be less likely to pursue you. If needed, hold something between yourself and pakake such as a towel or a bag, as you move away, to act as a barrier.

If they move towards you
Reasons pakake might approach you
Playful pups

Young individuals spend most of their free time practising for their future through play. They are especially inquisitive and will confidently approach people. While they may be cute it is important not to engage. As wild animals, they do not know how to play nice with people. They also carry diseases that we can catch if we get too close, including tuberculosis. It is important to remember they will grow up to be over 100kg (250 pounds). Avoiding interaction with them when they are young will protect them from getting into trouble as adults.

Beach masters

Whakahao/male New Zealand sea lions are always working to be the best breeders. Their main goal is to protect a harem (group) of kake/females so that only they can breed with them. On mainland New Zealand the population is too low for most whakahao to form a harem. This results in their adoption of younger pakake. Any whakahao with a harem will work to protect them from any perceived threats and this may include people and dogs. As they don't want to lose their harem they are unlikely to pursue any people who keep their distance.


..Kake/female New Zealand sea lions are year-round mothers. They will raise their pup for a year and often have another pup immediately. They will of course be protective of these pups. If you see a mother and pup make sure to give them extra space so as not to upset them. Mothers also have to leave their pups to hunt. Young pups will be hidden inland to keep them safe while she is away. Stay vigilant around the coast and if a kake seems upset with you move along the ..beach away from her in case.. are between her and her........... ...............pup. If you do this she is............. unlikely to follow you.

Learn more about pakake
Look out for Pakake
Keeping Pakake Safe
Report Pakake