Welcome to this guide to National Parks compiled by New Zealand’s Information Network as a means of introducing you to our top natural attractions. We will provide an overview of the character, striking features and wildlife of each park, and will outline the major walking and tramping tracks.
New Zealand is renowned for its incredible diversity of scenery and landforms. The North Island is endowed with golden beaches, vast forests and active volcanoes. The South Island crams glaciers, mountains, lakes and fiords into a compact area, and Stewart Island is virtually untouched by man.
Our wilderness areas are so pristine and expansive that one half of New Zealand is protected in the form of conservation parks and reserves. This includes 14 National Parks, which are preserved in perpetuity in their natural state because of the outstanding quality of their physical features and ecological systems.
The National Parks are regarded as vital ecological islands in an expanding human world. They are a glimpse of what the world once was. Half of them are located in high alpine regions, characterised by harsh landscapes of ice, rock, grinding glaciers and deep alpine lakes. Two parks are centred on volcanic cones in the North Island, one dormant and the other highly active and unpredictable. Five are in classic New Zealand wilderness areas – vast forested ranges intersected by tramping tracks, wild rivers, steep gorges and beautiful valleys. Two parks embrace picture perfect lakes and rivers and one is in a coastal setting of golden sand beaches, sculptured cliffs and intimate coves.
National Parks are administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC) which has a headquarters office and visitor centre at every park. The parks are just a few hours drive from our major cities and all have public transport links.
The New Zealand National Parks contain some of the most beautiful places on earth, and provide opportunities for adventure and enjoyment that will appeal to people of all ages. The comprehensive system of tracks, huts and campsites, means that walking in our parks is a wonderful way to experience the Kiwi outdoor life.