National parks of New Zealand

National Park, New Zealand is a Railway station and village near Tongariro National Park.

The Department of Conservation administers the majority of the publicly owned land in New Zealand that is protected for scenic, scientific, historic and cultural reasons, or set aside for recreational purposes. More than 80,000 km² – nearly 30 percent of the nation's total area – are administered by the department.

There are 14 national parks, covering just under 25,000 km², 20 forest parks covering some 18,000 km², about 3,500 reserves covering around 15,000 km², and some 610 km² of protected private land and covenants that have been set aside for scenic, scientific or ecological reasons. The department also has responsibility for the preservation and management of wildlife, and has a role in management of the coastal marine area with 19 marine reserves and two other protected marine areas from the Kermadec Islands to Fiordland.

The National Parks Act 1980 provides for the establishment of national parks or reserves in areas where the scenery is of such distinctive quality, or the natural features or ecological systems so important scientifically that their preservation is in the national interest. The act also provides for the public to have freedom of entry and access to the parks, though this is subject to such conditions and restrictions as are necessary for the preservation of native plants and animals or for the welfare of the parks in general. Access to specially protected areas (550 km²) constituted under the act is by permit only.

The act states that national parks are to be maintained as far as possible in their natural state so that their value as soil, water and forest conservation areas is maintained. Native plants and animals are to be preserved and introduced plants and animals are to be removed if their presence is seen to conflict with the aims of the act. Development in wilderness areas established under the act is restricted to foot tracks and huts essential for wild animal control or scientific research. The act allows the Department of Conservation to provide hostels, huts, camping grounds, ski tows and similar facilities, parking areas, roading and tracks within the parks. Accommodation, transport and other services at entry points to the parks are provided by the department, other government agencies, voluntary organisations and private enterprise. Some services within the parks, such as guided walks and skiing instruction, are provided by private firms under concessions from the department.


List of National Parks

New Zealand's national parks (from north to south) are:

(796 km², established in 1887) was New Zealand's first national park. It includes the three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.

(2127 km², established 1954) together with neighbouring Whirinaki Forest Park, is the largest remaining area of native forest in the North Island. Lake Waikaremoana which is within the park is noted for its scenic shoreline.

(335 km², established 1900) comprises all the land in a 9-kilometre radius of the Taranaki/Mount Egmont summit and some outlying areas to the north. The symmetrical cone of the dormant volcano is a provincial landmark.

(742 km², established 1986) borders the Whanganui River. It incorporates areas of Crown land, former state forest and a number of former reserves. The river itself is not part of the park.

(4,520 km², established 1996) situated in the north-west of the South Island comprises spectacular and remote country and includes the Heaphy Track. It has ancient landforms and unique flora and fauna. It is the second largest national park.

(225 km², established 1942) has numerous tidal inlets and beaches of golden sand along the shores of Tasman Bay. It is New Zealand's smallest national park.

(1,018 km², established 1956) is a rugged, mountainous area in Nelson Region. It extends southwards from the forested shores of Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa to the Lewis Pass National Reserve.

(306 km², established 1987) is on the West Coast of the South Island between Westport and Greymouth. It includes the celebrated Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

(1,144 km², established 1929) is a rugged and mountainous area straddling the main divide of the Southern Alps.

(1,175 km², established 1960) 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, plus remains of old gold mining towns along the coast.

(707 km², established 1953) is an alpine park, containing New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt Cook (3,754 m), and longest glacier, Tasman Glacier (29 km). A focus for mountaineering, ski touring and scenic flights, the park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Mount Cook and Westland National Parks have together been declared a World Heritage Area.

(3,555 km², established 1964) is a complex of impressively glaciated mountain scenery centred on Mount Aspiring (3,036 m), which is New Zealand's highest peak outside Mount Cook National Park.

(12,519 km², established 1952) is the largest national park in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The grandeur of its scenery, with its deep fiords, its lakes of glacial origin, its mountains and waterfalls, has earned it international recognition as a world heritage area.

Stewart Island, 1,500 km², established in 2002.


  • Statistics New Zealand ( - National Parks information.

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