Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick today opened a major new conservation reserve in the Southern Alps with rugged 2000 metre-high peaks, stunning beech forests, historic mining huts and loads of outdoor opportunities.
“The 9400 hectare Whakaari Conservation Area is a massive outdoor playground that is now open to all New Zealanders and visitors for tramping, mountain biking, skiing, bird watching and other activities.
“’Whakaari’ appropriately means ‘elevated land’, and this area has a huge amount to offer both aesthetically and historically.
“It includes the site of historic scheelite mining from last century, with mining equipment, huts and information to explain how the miners lived and worked. The unique site had a booming mining industry during the two World Wars.
“This beautiful reserve is a welcome addition to the growing conservation estate, and represents the Labour-led government’s commitment to making sure kiwi’s continue to have access to our unique countryside.”
Kea, falcons and rock wrens live in these mountains, which are also home to special alpine plants. The land has returned to Crown ownership as part of the Wyuna pastoral lease tenure review.
New outdoor activities include:
a new half day walking track to the Government Battery with spectacular views across the head of Lake Wakatipu
a full day walk or mountain bike trip further into the mountains along the Mount Judah track, which includes scheelite mines
a more strenuous day walk or mountain bike trip on a loop taking in the Mount McIntosh workings
overnight tramping trips to historic mining huts
heli-skiing and ski mountaineering in winter.
The Minister has today also opened a new facility for trampers and visitors at the end of the Routeburn track, which attracts around 60,000 visitors a year.
The redevelopment at the roadend of the Routeburn track includes a spacious new shelter with flush toilets, wash basins and local information, parking for buses and cars, and better traffic flow for peak times.
Steve Chadwick says these facilities are designed to match the strong international reputation of one of New Zealand’s most popular walking tracks.
“The whole project has been especially landscaped and designed to blend naturally with this spectacular setting, in keeping with the world heritage status of Mount Aspiring National Park.
“This is another project the Labour-led government is proud to invest in to provide better facilities for New Zealanders and visitors from overseas to showcase our truly unique outdoor environment.”
The cost of the Routeburn development was $927,191, and was funded through a 10-year $346 million investment from 2002 for Department of Conservation visitor facilities.