The Kermadec Islands are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga. The islands are part of New Zealand, 33.6 km2 in total area and uninhabited.
The islands have no native land mammals. An endemic bird subspecies is the Kermadec red-crowned parakeet. The group has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because of its significance as a breeding site for several species of seabirds, including white-necked and black-winged petrels, wedge-tailed and little shearwaters, sooty terns and blue noddies. The area also hosts rich habitats for cetaceans. In recent years, increased presences of humpback whales indicate Kermadec Islands functioning as migratory corridors, and varieties of baleen and toothed whales including minke whales, sperm whales, less known beaked whales, killer whales, and dolphins frequent in adjacent waters. In late September 2015, satellite tags were attached to 25 humpback whales around Raoul Island, which were tracked to feeding grounds in Antarctica and across to the Antarctic Peninsula. Vast numbers of southern right whales were historically seen in southwestern areas although only a handful of recent confirmations exist around Raoul Island. The deep sea hydrothermal vents along the Kermadec ridge support diverse extremophile communities including the New Zealand blind vent crab. Three new records of tropical reef fishes were recorded from the Kermadec Islands Marine Reserve in 2015 after researchers examined hundreds of hours of unused documentary film footage, and in 2016, a red velvet whalefish and an angler fish were found around the waters of the Kermadec Islands by a research partnership between Ngāti Kurī, University of Auckland, Massey University, NIWA, Manaaki Whenua, and the University of Waikato.
In 2016, Koha, a hawksbill turtle, which was originally found injured near Dargaville in September 2014, was released around the waters of Raoul Island and nursed back to health at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium. The release was from the deck of the RV Tangaroa, with land in sight to enable Koha to orientate itself to prevent the risk of getting lost in the open ocean.