Background to the Blumine Project


At 378 hectares Blumine Island is the largest island reserve administered by the Department of Conservation in the Marlborough Sounds. Classified as a Scenic Reserve it is 22kms northeast of Picton and is on the route of the many craft plying the tourist charter trade to the outer Queen Charlotte Sound.

The Maori history of Blumine Island has yet to be told however much archaeological evidence has been found of former occupation sites. The Island had been declared a Pilot and Signal Station Reserve in 1865 but was thereafter used for sheep farming and in 1912, 113 acres (46 hectares) at the south eastern end of the island was given reserve status. Two thirds of the island at the north western section was farmed until the 1940's leaving only the eastern section of the island's flora and fauna in almost pristine condition

The eastern area of the island is considered one of the few locations in the Marlborough Sounds where an example of the virgin island forest once covering the islands can still be found. This is due to the absence of possums and goats. Blumine supports the largest and densest population of the nationally threatened land snail Powelliphanta hochstetteri bicolour. This population of the snail is considered nationally as being the only "safe" population of P.h.bicolor due to the lack of predators. Also present on the island is the regionally threatened large leaved milk tree Streblus banksii. The once farmed area now displays an excellent example of 60 year old regenerating native forest supporting significant birdlife.

The island's strategic location combined with its excellent coverage of the Queen Charlotte Sound northern entrance led to two coastal defence batteries (84 Battery N.Z. Coastal Defence) being established at the island’s northern end in 1942. The defence complex was disestablished in 1945 leaving behind the concrete remains of some of the best examples and most readily accessible W.W.2. gun emplacements remaining in N.Z.

Blumine Island has long been identified as having the potential for ecological restoration. The number of other predator free Scientific and Wildlife Reserve islands in the Marlborough Sounds have meant that resources to develop Blumine Island as such have been scarce. However, increasing visitor demands on these other Reserve islands, and the accessibility of Blumine Island have more recently made improved management for ecological and visitor values a higher priority. Partnerships such as that with the Untouched World Clothing Company Charitable Trust have enabled progress to be made through the use of volunteer groups.