National parks of New Zealand

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Map of New Zealand with the national parks marked in green.

The national parks of New Zealand are 14 protected areas that are looked after by the Department of Conservation[1] "for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public".[2] These are popular among tourists, with 30% of tourists visiting at least one national park during their stay in New Zealand.[3] While the national parks contain some of New Zealand's most beautiful scenery, the first few that were created were all focused on mountains. Since the 1980s more different kinds of New Zealand landscapes have been included in the national parks.[4] New Zealand's national parks are all important to preserve both nature and culture, and some are also historically important.[5] Tongariro National Park is one of 27 World Heritage Sites that is of both cultural and natural significance, and four of the South Island national parks form Te Wahipounamu, another World Heritage Site.

National Parks Act[change | change source]

The National Parks Act of 1980 was written to record what national parks are for, and how they would be chosen and looked after. It begins by explaining what a national park is:

It is hereby declared that the provisions of this Act shall have

effect for the purpose of preserving in perpetuity as national parks, for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public, areas of New Zealand that contain scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that their preservation is in the national interest.

National Parks Act 1980, Part 1, section 4, subsection 1[6]

The National Parks Act goes on to say that the public will be allowed to enter and use the parks freely, but with rules to avoid destroying the native plants and animals or the parks. Access to specially protected areas (550 km²) as noted under the act is only allowed with special permits. National parks are soil, water and forest conservation areas, and should be kept as natural as possible. Native plants and animals are to be looked after and other plants and animals removed if they harm the natural wildlife. Development in what the act calls "wilderness areas" is only foot tracks and huts used for wild animal control or scientific research.

Services available for public use[change | change source]

The Act allows the Department of Conservation to provide hostels, huts, camping grounds, ski tows and other services, parking areas, roading and tracks within the parks. As well as these, the department also provides some accommodation, transport and other services at entry points to the parks, but these are also offered by others. Other services within the parks, such as guided walks and skiing tutorials, are provided by other companies, sometimes with help from the department.

List of national parks[change | change source]

Satellite photo of Egmont National Park (the forested area).
Mitre Peak at Milford Sound, the most visited and famous of the fiords in Fiordland National Park.

     *World Heritage Site or part of a World Heritage Site

National Park Area Established Location Description
Te Urewera National Park 2127 km² 1954 38°45′S 117°9′E / 38.75°S 117.15°E / -38.75; 117.15 When put together with Whirinaki Forest Park, Te Urewera is the largest remaining stand of native forest in the North Island.
Tongariro National Park* 796 km² 1887 39°12′S 175°35′E / 39.2°S 175.58333°E / -39.2; 175.58333 Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's first national park, recognised as one of the 27 World Heritage Sites that are of both outstanding natural and cultural value. It was given to the government by Te Heuheu Tūkino IV and includes several sacred Māori sites and three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.
Egmont National Park 335 km² 1900 39°16′S 174°6′E / 39.26667°S 174.1°E / -39.26667; 174.1 This park contains the land about a nine-kilometre radius of Mount Taranaki/Egmont and some areas to the north.
Whanganui National Park 742 km² 1986 39°35′S 175°5′E / 39.58333°S 175.08333°E / -39.58333; 175.08333 This park borders the Whanganui River and contains areas of Crown land, former state forest and a number of former reserves.
Abel Tasman National Park 225 km² 1942 40°50′S 172°54′E / 40.83333°S 172.9°E / -40.83333; 172.9 The smallest national park, this popular tourist destination has many tidal inlets and beaches of golden sand along the shores of Tasman Bay. "Doing the Abel Tasman" as a tramping or kayaking journey is a popular activity.
Kahurangi National Park 4,520 km² 1996 41°15′S 172°7′E / 41.25°S 172.11667°E / -41.25; 172.11667 Kahurangi is New Zealand's second largest national park, and is located on the north-west of the South Island. It contains ancient landforms and unique flora and fauna, as well as tracks like the well-used Heaphy Track.
Nelson Lakes National Park 1,018 km² 1956 41°49′9″S 172°50′15″E / 41.81917°S 172.8375°E / -41.81917; 172.8375 Nelson Lakes National Park stretches south from the forest on the shores of Lake Rotoiti and Rotoroa to the Lewis Pass National Reserve. It is a rugged mountain area.
Paparoa National Park 306 km² 1987 42°5′S 171°30′E / 42.08333°S 171.5°E / -42.08333; 171.5 Paparoa is on the West Coast of the South Island between Westport and Greymouth. It includes the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Arthur's Pass National Park 1,144 km² 1929 42°57′S 171°34′E / 42.95°S 171.56667°E / -42.95; 171.56667 This park is located on the main divide of the Southern Alps and has very rugged mountain terrain.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park* 1,175 km² 1960 43°23′S 170°11′E / 43.38333°S 170.18333°E / -43.38333; 170.18333 Extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps to a wild remote coastline. Included in the park are glaciers, scenic lakes and dense rainforest, as well as the remains of old gold mining towns along the coast.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park* 707 km² 1953 43°44′S 170°6′E / 43.73333°S 170.1°E / -43.73333; 170.1 An alpine park, containing New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook (3,754 m) and its longest glacier, Tasman Glacier (29 km). A popular place for mountaineering, ski touring and scenic flights, the park is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Mount Aspiring National Park* 3,555 km² 1964 44°23′S 168°44′E / 44.38333°S 168.73333°E / -44.38333; 168.73333 A complex of impressively glaciated mountain scenery centred on Mount Aspiring/Tititea (3,030 m),[7] New Zealand's highest peak outside of the main divide.
Fiordland National Park* 12,519 km² 1952 45°25′S 167°43′E / 45.41667°S 167.71667°E / -45.41667; 167.71667 The largest national park in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world, the park covers the southwest corner of the South Island. The grandeur of its scenery, with its deep fiords, its glacial lakes, its mountains and waterfalls, make it a popular tourist destination.
Rakiura National Park 1,500 km² 2002 46°54′S 168°7′E / 46.9°S 168.11667°E / -46.9; 168.11667 Covering about 85% of Stewart Island/Rakiura, this is the newest of the national parks.

Proposed national park[change | change source]

The area around Waipoua Forest, north of Dargaville, was suggested to become a new Kauri National Park. The area contains most of New Zealand's remaining kauri, including the largest known kauri, Tāne Mahuta. These stands of kauri are also important because they are homes for many endangered species including the North Island Brown Kiwi.[8] This proposal is currently being considered by the Department of Conservation.[9]

Mining concerns[change | change source]

In 2010 the New Zealand Government proposed removing some national park and conservation areas from Schedule 4 protection of the Crown Minerals Act which means that mining is not allowed in those areas.[1] In July the government decided against the proposal after receiving a large number of submissions, most of which were against mining.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Miners press to enter the green zone". The New Zealand Herald. 6 March 2010. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/pollution/news/article.cfm?c_id=281&objectid=10630166&pnum=0. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  2. "8. Benefit, Use and Enjoyment of the Public: General Policy for National Parks". doc.govt.nz. Department of Conservation. http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/about-doc/role/policies-and-plans/general-policy-for-national-parks/8-benefit-use-and-enjoyment-of-the-public/. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  3. "International visitor numbers to larger national parks: Visitor statistics and research". doc.govt.nz. Department of Conservation. http://www.doc.govt.nz/about-doc/role/visitor-statistics-and-research/great-walks-visitor-statistics/. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  4. "National Parks Act 1980: DOC's role". doc.govt.nz. Department of Conservation. http://www.doc.govt.nz/about-doc/role/legislation/national-parks-act/. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  5. "5. Historical and Cultural Heritage: General Policy for National Parks". doc.govt.nz. Department of Conservation. http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/about-doc/role/policies-and-plans/general-policy-for-national-parks/5-historical-and-cultural-heritage/. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  6. Retrieved from http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1980/0066/10.0/096be8ed802f3e20.pdf on 21 August 2010
  7. NHK, "Aspiring: Glistening Peak Forged by Wind and Water -- New Zealand, 3,030 m"; retrieved 2012-5-24.
  8. "Beehive - New Kauri National Park for Northland". beehive.govt.nz. http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new+kauri+national+park+northland. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  9. "Minister welcomes progress on Kauri National Park". Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Government. 2010-02-11. http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister+welcomes+progress+kauri+national+park. Retrieved 12 February 2010.

Other websites[change | change source]