New Zealand

Personalised Adventure Coach Tours

**Specialising in outdoor wilderness experiences**

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Nelson Lakes National Park

The newest of the national parks, gazetted during 1995, and the second largest (to Fiordland) at more than 400,000 ha, has absorbed the North-West Nelson Forest Park and other tracts of land in the region. It is historically rich with archaeological evidence of Maori habitation at a number of sites - one at the Heaphy River mouth dated as early as 1380.

Maori used the coastline to travel between Golden Bay and the West Coast, often in search of greenstone (pounamu). Later, Europeans sought seals, timber and flax and mined gold and coal in the area. It contains a complex combination of rock types, more than half of the country's native plant species (including 19 regarded as 'threatened' and 29 known as rare), and about 100 native bird species (including threatened spotted kiwi, South Island kaka, kereru, blue duck and rock wren).

The country's only two native mammals, the long-tailed and short-tailed bats, have been recorded in the area, although the short-tailed bat has not been seen for some years. Native spiders and insects abound and 12 native fish species have been identified, including some which are found nowhere else.

The park has 570 km of walking tracks. The Karamea River that runs through it is a favourite for canoeists. Recreational hunters stalk the many deer and goats.

Gecko Guide Comments:

This park, because it covers an area from the coast to the alpine regions gives trampers the opportunity to view a variety of landscapes. Because it is situated on the west side of the South Island heavy rainfall is experienced during all seasons the best time to visit is between November to January.

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