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Many of the wonders of New Zealand are found in its national parks. Starting with Tongariro National Park which was established in 1887, today there are now 13 national parks, most of them located in South Island.



The New Zealand Department of Conservation is responsible for the administration of New Zealand's national parks. New Zealand has thirteen national parks covering an area of approximately 25,000 km². The largest is Fiordland National Park.

The main act for national parks in New Zealand is the National Parks Act 1980 provides for the creation of national parks or reserves in areas where the landscapes are of particular quality, as well as territories whose terrain or environment is scientifically and ecologically important, deserving preservation of national interest.

National parks

Map of New Zealand national parks

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are marked with a dark red marker as opposed to a forest green marker.

North Island

  • 1 Egmont National Park is surrounded on all sides by pasture, giving its distinctly circular shape. It was established in 1900 and is New Zealand's second national park, containing the dormant Mount Taranaki.
  • 1 Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's first national park and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing three volcanoes, and a popular destination for tramping and skiing.
  • 2 Whanganui National Park in the Whanganui region of North Island protects the northern forests near Whanganui River, but unfortunately the river is not part of the national park. Strangely, the river is legally a person and has the rights of a person too.

South Island

Trampers in Aoraki / Mt Cook NP
  • 3 Abel Tasman National Park (Tasman) – one of New Zealand's most isolated parks, named after Abel Tasman, a good spot for tramping and known for beaches
  • 2 Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park (Canterbury) contains New Zealand's highest mountains, including 22 of the 23 peaks over 3000 metres. It's one of the earliest protected areas in New Zealand, and today a popular hiking destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Te Wāhipounamu.
  • 4 Arthur's Pass National Park (Canterbury / West Coast) is another of the South Island's mountainous parks, and includes Arthur's Pass – one of the most impressive passes in New Zealand
  • 3 Fiordland National Park (Southland) is New Zealand's largest national park, home to several fiords as the name suggests. The best known is Milford Sound, followed by Doubtful Sound, but all provide many tramping opportunities. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Te Wāhipounamu.
  • 5 Kahurangi National Park (Tasman / West Coast) is New Zealand's second largest national park, to the west of Abel Tasman in the north of the South Island, popular for tramping, rafting and caving.
  • 4 Mount Aspiring National Park (Otago / West Coast) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Te Wāhipounamu just north of Fiordland. The park is not known for anything in particular, but has the landscape that many characterise New Zealand of.
  • 6 Nelson Lakes National Park (Tasman) is known for its beech forests, several glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains and valleys created by glaciers.
  • 7 Paparoa National Park (West Coast) is home to the very impressive Pancake Rocks formation on the West Coast of South Island, a popular stopover for travellers travelling along State Highway 6.
  • 5 Westland Tai Poutini National Park (West Coast) has several of New Zealand's most visited glaciers, including the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Te Wāhipounamu.

Stewart Island


See also

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