Tourism operators in the Banks Peninsula town of Akaroa are urging the Government to approve a marine reserve in the town's harbour before the peak season next summer.
Residents have been pushing for the reserve for more than 20 years.
The Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society says the Conservation Minister wants more evidence about how the reserve would benefit recreation.
It says dolphin and birdwatching are wonderful attractions in the harbour and tourism operators need the reserve to protect the sea-life.
The society says there are already two national land reserves near the proposed marine area and it makes sense to have them together.