ⓘ National parks of New Zealand
The national parks of New Zealand are 14 protected areas that are looked after by the Department of Conservation "for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public". These are popular among tourists, with 30% of tourists visiting at least one national park during their stay in New Zealand. While the national parks contain some of New Zealands 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. New Zealands national parks are all important to preserve both nature and culture, and some are also historically important. 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.
1. National Parks Act
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.
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.
1.1. National Parks Act Services available for public use
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.
2. Proposed national park
The area around Waipoua Forest, north of Dargaville, was suggested to become a new Kauri National Park. The area contains most of New Zealands 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. This proposal is currently being considered by the Department of Conservation.
3. Mining concerns
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. In July the government decided against the proposal after receiving a large number of submissions, most of which were against mining.
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