Archives For National Parks

It’s been a busy winter at Shy Lake as we follow the southern Fiordland tokoeka through our first monitored breeding season.

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Our first job for the new kiwi project at Shy Lake was to get radio transmitters on enough adults that we could hope for a worthwhile sample this year in terms of survival monitoring.

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Thanks for all your comments telling us why you want this fantastic book. The giveaway is now closed and the winners (picked at random) are: Gloria Williams and Darryn Anderson.

New Zealand is blessed with some of the most remarkable natural landscapes on Earth. The most unique and iconic of these areas are set aside as national parks.

For the last few weeks I’ve loved having these special places in my living room, courtesy of the Natural History New Zealand produced television series Wild About New Zealand — made to celebrate the 125th anniversary of New Zealand’s first national park.

Tonight’s the last episode (8:30 pm, TV One) but you can continue your living room adventures with Gus in the book, Wild About New Zealand: A Guide to Our National Parks.

Cover of Wild About New Zealand.

Written by outdoor adventurer Gus Roxburgh and illustrated with magnificent photographs and bird’s-eye view maps, this is both an entertaining and comprehensive visitor’s guide as well as a stunning celebration of New Zealand’s amazingly diverse national parks.

And, here’s the bit you’ve been waiting for:

Thanks to Random House New Zealand, we’ve got copies to give away!

To be in to win leave a comment on this post before 12 noon on Thursday 10 October 2013, telling us why you want the book. Winners will be selected at random and contacted by email.

Please note: We can only ship to New Zealand addresses.

Wild About New Zealand: A Guide to our National Parks is valued at $55.00 and is available to purchase from book stores nationwide.

Watch Wild About New Zealand On Demand

Start planning your own New Zealand National Park escape

DOC Great Walks Logo.

by Siobhan File

In November I’m going down to Nelson for a week with work and thought that while I’m down there, I should attempt my first proper Great Walk at the end of the trip (with the Abel Tasman Coast Track). I say proper because I’ve done bits before, but I was helicoptered to those places and met my bag and a chilli bin of food at the huts, rather than having to carry it myself… don’t judge me.

So, I rallied a group of friends together last Saturday night while we were all out at dinner. Everyone was super keen, but over the week it’s dwindled from six of us, to four of us, to now just me and my boyfriend who’s going to meet me on the Friday.

Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park. Photo: Garry Holz

Mosquito Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

After stuffing up my hut bookings (which the visitor centre staff were very nice about), we’ve locked in Anchorage Hut for Friday night and Awaroa Hut for Saturday night. We’ll then catch an aqua taxi back from Totaranui on Sunday afternoon to fly back to Wellington.

A map of Abel Tasman National park and the walking route.

A map of where we’ll be walking

So that’s a big day of walking on the Saturday. I hope I don’t get blisters or a sore back from my pack.

Some other things I am currently worried about include:

  • What am I going to wear? The DOC website says wool or fleece clothing, but even in November? Isn’t Nelson the sunniest spot in New Zealand? I’m not sure what tramping attire really is.
  • Will my running shoes be ok? I don’t think I’ll be able to fit big fluffy socks into them…
  • The website also says ‘a portable stove will be needed’. I don’t have one of those either. I’ll have to look around for one.
  • Will my sleeping bag be warm enough (given it’s a child’s one I got from Santa when I was 11)?
  • Which aqua taxi will we get from Totaranui, and will it tee up with a shuttle back to the airport?

Some things I am really excited about include:

  • Being able to eat as much scroggin as I like—guilt free because it’s pretty much non-negotiable for tramping
  • Choosing my own mix of ingredients to make my perfect scroggin
  • Experiencing the spiritual feeling I’m told I’ll get while walking
  • Playing cards by candle light in the huts
An image of scroggin including sultanas and nuts.

Did you know that ‘Scroggin’ stands for: ‘Sultanas, Carob, Raisins, Orange peel, Grains, Glucose, Imagination, Nuts’. I’m gonna go crazy on the ‘imagination’, and will definitely be swapping the carob for chocolate.

So I’ve got a bit of organising to do around getting there and back, and sorting out my equipment. If anyone has any recommendations or advice about the Abel Tasman it would be greatly appreciated!

Image of Sirocco with a camera.

Vote for your favourite photos in my photo contest

Update: Voting is now over. The winner will be announced soon.Skrraaarrrkk! To celebrate the 2012 Conservation Week theme of “Love Your Parks” I have been running a photo competition on my Facebook page asking you to submit your best “people loving parks” photo.

As a parrot of the night I don’t get many opportunities to see New Zealand’s fantastic parks in the day light – except the undergrowth – but this photo contest was a great way to change that!

Amongst the great snapshots I have received from all over New Zealand are people enjoying glaciers, beaches, mountains, and even our tussock grasslands. The entries reflect how much you all love getting out and using our parks.

Image of Sirocco's Facebook page and the photo contest tab.

Head to my Facebook page to cast your vote

Entries for the competition closed on Sunday, but there is still time to head over and vote for your favourite photo, so wing it on over to my contest page and get voting. To cast your vote head to the competition tab on my Facebook page. You’ll need to have logged into your Facebook account and “liked” my page. Voting closes this Wednesday night.

Voting in my contest will make sure that the very best photos make it into the top ten. These top ten photos will go to my photographer pal Rob Suisted, for professional judging, and he’ll pick the winner.

Sirocco's "Show Me Your Parks" contest banner image.

My photo contest celebrated the theme for Conservation Week 2012,
“Love Your Parks”

Boom! Didn’t get your entry in? You can still share with me your amazing photos on my Facebook page – or check out my photography tips on the DOC website to learn how to get the perfect snap!

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.

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:

Franz and his beard

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.

A new plaque on the Arthur’s Pass historic walk was recently put in beside the original lump of greywacke which Ray (above) carved the first symbol into.

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!