To celebrate Conservation Week and this year’s theme ‘Love your parks’, Visitor Centre staff from national parks around the country share with us some interesting facts.
There are 14 national parks in New Zealand, and while Kiwis like to celebrate and show off our beautiful national parks, it is often only when people get the chance to visit that they get to learn about some of the hidden secrets and fascinating histories of these places.
Below is a list of some of the interesting facts and figures that have been sent in by our visitor centre staff who like to pass on these pieces of information to visitors to their area.
From the Franz Josef i-SITE:
In 1865 Julius Haast named the Franz Josef Glacier after the Emperor of Austria because it reminded him of his long white beard.
Franz Josef is one of only three glaciers that flow down into temperate rainforest; Fox is the other and San Rafael in Patagonia is the third.
The Alpine Fault Line runs right under the town’s petrol station.
The average yearly rain fall in Franz Josef is almost 6000mm compared to Christchurch, which receives approximately 650mm.
From the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre:
Arthur’s Pass National Park was the first National Park in the South Island.
Arthur’s Pass village is absolutely tiny, home to only 30-odd permanent residents and surrounded by the 114,000 hectare Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Arthur’s Pass is one of only two places in New Zealand with possessive apostrophes in their names (the other is Hawke’s Bay). The Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre takes apostrophe protection very seriously!
Arthur’s Pass ranger, Ray Cleland, was one of the first full-time professional rangers in the country. In 1956 he designed the mountain, beech and river emblem for Arthur’s Pass National Park which he carved into a lump of greywacke.
From Whakapapa Visitor Centre:
The Tongariro Northern Circuit was opened as a Great Walk on the Labour Weekend of the 1992/1993 season.
In 2007 the Tongariro Crossing track was renamed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to better reflect the nature and terrain of the track and to address concerns that many visitors who undertook the Crossing were under-prepared both in terms of equipment and expectation.
The track used for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been in existence for many years, but was not called the Tongariro Crossing until much later. Part of this track was previously used as a horse track.
From Paparoa National Park:
The flaggy limestone layers of the Pancake Rocks are unique to Paparoa. They occur nowhere else in the world.
The well known Inland Pack Track follows a track originally formed by gold miners.
The endemic Westland Black Petrel breeds only on the Punakaiki Coast.
From Nelson Lakes National Park:
During the last Ice Age massive glaciers created troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River. Today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes National Park.
The last glacial action in this area was between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago.
From the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre:
85% of Stewart Island’s total land mass is included inside the borders of Rakiura National Park.
Rakiura means “The Land of the Glowing Skies”—a reference to both the stunning night sky phenomenon known as the Southern Lights and the magnificent sunsets that can be viewed there.
If you have any fun national park facts to share we’d love to hear them; we may even be able to add them to our story for the blog!