Quirky questions about National Parks

 —  11/09/2012
DOC staff in visitor centres are knowledgeable characters. They know all about the history of their area, what to do, what to wear, where to go for this and that, and are happy to help visitors plan and prepare for their holidays.
However, from time to time, they do get a few questions they’re just not sure how to answer…. As Kiwis we take what we know about our natural areas, flora and fauna for granted, but to tourists, some things are a lot less obvious. Some questions are legitimate and only funny to us New Zealanders, while others, well… I’ll let you decide. Here’s a list of some real questions our visitor centre staff have been asked over the last few years.

From Nelson Lakes National Park

  • What is there to do in Fiji?
  • Can I take a shopping trolley on the Abel Tasman Coast Track?
  • Where can I get a pedicure?
  • I’ve heard there are Roman ruins in the Abel Tasman – can I visit them?
  • How long is an annual hut pass valid for?
  • I have just heard that native snails are carnivorous. Is it safe to go tramping? Do they bite?
  • How long would it take to get to the bottom of the lake in a water taxi?

Abel Tasman’s best kept secret.

Would you like fries with your McFranz meal?

From the Franz Josef i-SITE

  • Do you have a McDonalds here?
  • How long is the 40 minute flight?

From Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre

  • I’ve been hearing a bird call… do you know what it is?
  • So is the greeting ‘Kia ora’ named after the kea birds?
  • Is this made out of real kiwi? (asked by a shopper about a kiwi toy)
  • Is that the wind? (asked as the village siren went off)
  • The kiwi in the forest—are they tame?
  • Can you please tell me what temperature it will be on 13 February? (a phone call received in December)
  • Is it named after the captain from Star Wars? (‘it’ being Mount Cook—the reply was “First, no—you are thinking of Captain Kirk from Star Trek, and second, Captain Kirk wasn’t around when Aoraki was named”)
  • Have any llamas been squashed on the roads lately, and will they become wild in the park?
  • Are there any peanut farms here?
  • “You get a lot of earthquakes here don’t you – will there be one today at 1pm? We have a woman on our bus – its her birthday and she has never felt an earthquake.” Funnily enough – we had a shake at 1.05pm!
  • The sign says ‘the road is closed’, what does that mean?

Aoraki/Mt Kirk.

Rakiura National Park

  • I’m catching the ferry to Stewart Island on 23 of January—will it be raining? (asked by a caller in early September)

Whakapapa Visitor Centre

  • Do you have donkeys here? For the children to ride on?
  • Are there any volcanoes here? (asked while standing looking at the volcanic information)
  • Are there any postcards of Australia? (No) Oh, why is that?
  • Can you tell me about the gondola to the Bruce Mountain Wildlife Centre?
  • Is it a good idea to take a car on the Tongariro Crossing?

Donkey rides – only $2 across the crossing!

Paparoa National Park

  • Where do I report a dead possum on the road?
  • I wish to cycle to the summit of Mount Cook, how far does the road go?
  • Can you please tell me the tide differences between here and Los Angeles?
  • We are told there is a micro-climate in this area. Where do we find it?

Paparoa’s micro climate for the micro visitors.

Have you ever been asked a quirky question from a visitor to New Zealand? Comment and share it with us.

6 responses to Quirky questions about National Parks


    A frien work at Mt Cook/Aoraki years ago and would regularly be asked, by Americans: “Where is the road to Mt Cook?”
    and the Japanese: “Why is Mt Cook not lit up at night?”


    Some of these questions are hilarious. My boyfriend and i were visiting the coromandel peninsula. We stopped near Tairua at the lookout to the Alderman islands. There were about 10 chicken chicks running around when a tour bus full of overseas visitors pulled up. The people from the bus wanted to know if they were kiwis. We laughed and my bf pointed 2 me and said im a kiwi. 🙂


    On holiday in the US at my friends school: “Do you speak English?” “Have you ever seen a Maori?” “Do you have a geyser at your house?”


    Frequently, and by NZers as well as overseas visitors, when Moko the Dolphin lived and played here at Mahia, “When is the dolphin on today?”


    Heh. Thanks for posting these, although I can sympathise with asking what a Road Closed sign actually means. DoC advice is often really good, but the law emphasises free and open access for the public to explore on foot, and particularly within National Parks, areas can’t legally be closed (to access on foot) unless the Minister makes a bylaw consistent with an existing management plan. In Conservation Areas, conservators and area managers can close areas, but only because the Minister’s delegated that responsibility, and it’s considered serious enough for a year in jail.

    It doesn’t seem to stop the word “closed” getting used rather often merely as a simplistic way for rangers to indicate where they’d prefer to advise people not to go, though. 🙁


      Hi Mike, the road closed question was one I received while on the front counter in Arthur’s Pass a few years back now! it wasn’t a DOC closure, it was the state highway and it was snowing! I’m sure you are aware that the road over the pass does get closed quite regularly in the winter, but I guess those unfamiliar with the extremities of mountain weather it must seem very odd to have a state highway that can be “not open” 24/7!