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Six Pack of new High Country Parks launched

TUEDAY 14TH JUNE 2005

Six Pack of new High Country Parks launched

A proposal for a “Six Pack” of new Parks in the South Island high country was launched today by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) at a joint media conference held in Wellington.

“The high country is a special part of New Zealand with wide open spaces and vistas, and landforms which have been carved by glaciers, twisted by earthquakes, and shaped by large rivers. Its plants and wildlife include tawny tussocks, spiky matagouri, endangered lizards and grasshoppers and braided river birds,” Forest and Bird high country spokesperson, Dr Gerry McSweeney said.


“Establishing each of the parks in the Six Pack would help give the distinctive landscapes and natural ecosystems of the high country the recognition and protection they deserve.” Dr McSweeney said.

The Six Pack of Parks includes the Kaikoura Ranges conservation park in South Marlborough; St James/Spenser Mountains and Upper Rangitata/Arrowsmith/ Lake Heron in Canterbury; and Hawkdun/Oteake, Pisa Range and The Remarkables conservation parks in Otago.

“These six park proposals are priorities which are achievable in the immediate future and will consolidate the core of a representative network of High Country Parks. These parks can be established if LINZ and the Department of Conservation focus on better outcomes from tenure review, and initiate willing-buyer willing-seller purchase of strategic pastoral leases or parts of leases,” Dr McSweeney said.

“Park status for lands which are currently pastoral lease would unlock these areas for public use and enjoyment. Creating the parks would significantly expand the opportunities for public access and recreation, from ice climbing in the Kaikoura Ranges, fishing and tramping on St James, to mountain-biking in summer and ski-touring in winter on the Pisa Range,” FMC spokesperson John Wilson said.

“Five of the six parks are centred on existing conservation land. Two of them, Upper Rangitata/ Arrowsmith /Lake Heron and Hawkdun/Oteake would be significantly enhanced by positive outcomes from tenure review on nearby pastoral leases. For the three Otago parks - Hawkdun/Oteake, Pisa Range and The Remarkables, purchase of key pastoral lease lands is needed to better protect biodiversity, and improve public access. The St James/Spenser Mountains park requires the purchase of New Zealand’s largest pastoral lease, St James,” Dr McSweeney said.

“Preparation of a management plan for each park would focus and unify the management of sometimes dispersed areas such as the proposed Kaikoura Ranges park. It could improve recreational facilities such as tracks and huts, identify practical access, and ensure commercial activities were appropriately controlled,” Mr Wilson said.

Background Notes

Otago artist Grahame Sydney has generously demonstrated his support for the Six Pack of Parks proposal by enabling the use of his painting “Hawkdun Spring 1996” as a key image for the campaign.

Kaikoura Ranges Conservation Park (South Marlborough)

The proposal comprises 78,000 ha of existing conservation land on the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges, including the 37,450 ha Clarence Reserve conservation area, transferred to DoC in 2002. Some 68,000 ha is a continuous area along the Seaward Kaikoura Range. The park would unify management of scattered conservation areas and scenic reserves. The Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges are in one of the five most biologically diverse mainland areas in New Zealand. A park would give these dryland landscapes and their special plants and wildlife the status they deserve. It would enhance opportunities for climbing, tramping, fishing, mountain-biking, kayaking and rafting.

St James/Spenser Mountains (Canterbury)

The proposal includes New Zealand’s largest pastoral lease, the 76,550 ha St James lease and former Timberlands’ managed forests on the east bank of the Maruia valley. These forests are now conservation land. Creation of this park would require Government to purchase St James. It adjoins Molesworth, Nelson Lakes National Park, Lake Sumner Forest Park and conservation land at Hanmer. It includes the headwaters of two major rivers, the Waiau and the Clarence, and three mountain ranges – Spenser, St James, Opera and part of the Crimea Range. The popular St James Walkway crosses the property. Government purchase would improve public access for tramping, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, and hunting.

Upper Rangitata/Arrowsmith/Lake Heron (Canterbury)

The upper Rangitata is The Lord of the Rings country. This proposal is centred on 68,000 ha of existing conservation land in the upper Rangitata, Cameron, Ashburton and Rakaia catchments and around Lake Heron and other Hakatere/Ashburton lakes. Successful outcomes from tenure review are needed on nearby pastoral leases to establish the park. The transfer of the Rakaia and Rangitata riverbeds to DOC would usefully extend the park. More than six threatened bird species, including the wrybill and black-fronted tern breed on these riverbeds. Climbing, tramping, fishing, hunting and mountain biking opportunities abound in the area

Hawkdun/Oteake Conservation Park (Otago)

The Hawkdun Range is one of Central Otago’s most recognisable and least modified landscapes. The area includes extensive montane grasslands, and some of New Zealand’s best remaining valley floor, short tussock grasslands. It contains many threatened invertebrates and plants. There is enormous scope for backcountry skiing, tramping, walking, botanising and fishing. Purchase of two pastoral leases adjacent to public conservation land is needed to complete the park.

Pisa Range Conservation Park (Otago)

The Pisa Range dominates the Clutha Valley and is the highest of Central Otago's distinctive flat topped, block-faulted mountain ranges. Successful tenure review outcomes on two key leases are needed to create the park. It would protect the Pisa Range’s distinctive landscapes, rare alpine plants, dry silver beech forest and some of the Central Otago’s best remaining kanuka-manuka shrublands. Outstanding cross-country skiing in winter and walking and mountain biking in summer would flourish in a park setting.

The Remarkables Conservation Park (Otago)

The Remarkables Range is a major backdrop to Queenstown and is one of New Zealand’s most famous high country landscapes. The area is an ecologically important transition zone between the wet glaciated Southern Alps and Central Otago’s eastern flat-topped mountains. To create the park, the Government needs to purchase two pastoral leases and add them to existing conservation land. The Remarkables offer easily accessible skiing, climbing, tramping and mountain biking.

ENDS

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