Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park is one of New Zealand's newest, created in 1996, and the second largest national park at 452,002 hectares. In the Maori language, Kahurangi means 'treasured possession' an apt description of its wonderfully diverse natural and recreational values. The east has beech forest, while in the west podocarp forest abounds with a thick undergrowth of ferns, vines and shrubs. Within its boundaries are some of the oldest rocks, strangest plants and rarest birds in New Zealand; elsewhere a wonderful network of tracks lets you explore wild rivers, high plateaux and alpine herb fields, and coastal forests. There is a huge range of rare and endangered wildlife living in the park including 18 species of native birds. While walking through the bush visitors will be rewarded and serenaded by Tui’s, Bellbird’s and South Island Robins. The New Zealand Falcon, Rock Wren, Kaka, Yellowhead, Blue Duck and one of New Zealand’s largest birds, the great spotted Kiwi call Kahurangi home. At night, you will find giant native carnivorous snails feeding on metre long worms, the Kahurangi Cave Spider, one of world’s rarest, with a leg span of up to 12cm can be found in caves along with interesting cave beetles and Weta’s which can grow to scary proportions. Spelunkers from all over the world are attracted to Kahurangi to explore some of the finest and deepest caves in the world. Glacial karsts (eroded limestone formations) which have developed in the rock of the Mt Arthur and Mt Owen ranges, and are the longest and deepest in New Zealand. Caving expeditions usually involve the use of helicopters to transport equipment, supplies and cavers to the entry point. With over 570 km of walking and tramping tracks, The Heaphy Track is the park's most famous, a track which for hundreds of years was used by local tribes on their way to the pounamu (greenstone) resources of the west coast. A 'Great Walk' by every definition, the track covers 78 kilometres of subtropical rainforest, tussock high country, river valley and coast. The Wangapeka Track traverses Kahurangi National Park from the Waimea Basin in the east to the West Coast near Karamea in the west. It crosses two saddles of over 1000 metres and travels through beautiful beech-forested valleys of the Wangapeka, Karamea, Taipo and Little Wanganui rivers. Both the Heaphy and Wangapeka tracks are a 3 to 5 day walking experience, there are four DOC maintained huts on the Heaphy Track and seven on the Wangapeka Track. Camping is permitted, but is restricted to designated sites along the tracks.