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As New Zealanders our natural environment is closely tied to our identity—it’s part of what makes us who we are. It’s no wonder then, that our natural environment serves as a muse for so many of our musicians and artists.

Today, as New Zealand Music Month draws to a close, we delight in this connection with a visual feast of album covers inspired by our natural environment.

So many great album covers, so little bandwidth to transport them all to you…

Do you have a favourite New Zealand ‘inspired by nature’ album cover?

You probably don’t need me to tell you that today is Good Friday, but you could be forgiven for not knowing that today—18 April 2014—is also World Heritage Day.

To celebrate, we’re showing off New Zealand’s 3 stunning World Heritage sites.

Representing the best of the world’s natural (and, in some cases, cultural) heritage—and rated alongside places such as the Grand Canyon, the Serengeti, and Mount Everest—these are places that we should be immensely proud of…

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park was the first national park to be established in New Zealand, and the fourth in the world. It is a dual World Heritage area, a status which recognises the park’s important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

Mt. Ngauruhoe. Photo: Matti | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Mt. Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park

Emerald Lakes. Photo: Matti | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Emerald Lakes, Tongariro National Park

Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand

Te Wāhipounamu covers 10% of New Zealand’s landmass (2.6 million hectares) and contains many of the natural features which contribute to our international reputation for superlative landscapes: our highest mountains, longest glaciers, tallest forests, wildest rivers and gorges, most rugged coastlines and deepest fiords and lakes…

Lake Matheson. Photo: Geee Kay | flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Lake Matheson

Milford Sound. Photo: CameliaTWU | flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Milford Sound/Piopiotahi

New Zealand’s subantarctic islands

New Zealand’s wild and beautiful subantarctic islands have not only been honoured with World Heritage status, but they are also National Nature Reserves—the highest possible conservation status.

Home to some of the most abundant and unique wildlife on earth: many birds, plants and invertebrates are found nowhere else in the world.

Enderby Island, part of the Auckland Islands. Photo: Austronesian Expeditions | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Enderby Island

Subantarctic plantlife. Photo: Su Yin Khoo | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Subantarctic plant life

I hope this glimpse into our World Heritage has made your Good Friday even better.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

World Heritage Day is officially known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites.

Learn more about World Heritage on the DOC website.

If you cast your mind back to August last year, you might remember my blog post asking you to ‘Join me on the Wildside‘ a new social media community run by DOC on Facebook and Twitter.

Today, I’m proud to be one of over 9,000 people who ‘like’ Wildside and aspire to the ‘Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together.’ vision.

Of course, we’d love to have more people join us, which is why we’ve created these beautiful postcards and posters to raise its profile in the ‘real’ i.e. offline world.

Wildside poster.

As a member of DOC’s web team I see a lot of beautiful images every day, but when I saw that photo on flickrshowing North East Gorge Stream, looking towards Mount SibbaldI knew it was the one for our Wildside project. Alana McCrossin, the amazing DOC designer who drew the short straw to work with me on the project, agreed.

I contacted the Sydney based photographer, Tim Donnelly, to ask if he’d let us use his image for the cause, and he kindly agreed—sacrificing his own precious time and money to help.

So, as much as this post is a shout out to Wildside—it’s also a shout out to the generous, talented, Tim Donnelly—and everyone else who willingly shares their time, gifts and talents to help grow conservation

On Thursday, Tim’s going to share his story behind that photo with us.

See the Wildside posters (on display) and postcards (free to take) at DOC visitor centres around the country.