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New Wilderness Areas proposed for the West Coast

Hon Sandra Lee
Minister of Conservation

Media Statement

New Wilderness Areas proposed for the West Coast

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee today announced her intention to create two new wilderness areas on the West Coast of the South Island. The two proposed wilderness areas are the Adams Wilderness Area and the Paparoa Wilderness Area.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the West Coast and New Zealand to conserve unique areas of high ecological value, " said Ms Lee.

"Wilderness areas are internationally recognised as among the highest categories of protected areas. On a world-wide scale 'wildlands' are a diminishing resource and in some countries have all but disappeared,” she said. “It is vitally important that wilderness areas are created. The public needs to know that some areas of New Zealand are being protected against any form of development."

The proposed Adams Wilderness Area covers 56,136 hectares of public conservation land in the central Southern Alps Ka Tiritiri o te Moana. At the core of the proposed area are the vast snowfields of the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Allah, which drain to the Perth and Wanganui rivers in the west. The Bracken snowfield, which drains to the Whitcombe River is also included. Kea, rock wren, blue duck (kowhiowhio) and falcon (karearea) are some of the key native bird species found in the proposal area.

The proposed Paparoa Wilderness Area covers 32,439 hectares of public conservation land located along the northeastern side of the Paparoa Range. It includes rugged mountains that form the headwater catchments of the Ohikanui, Ohikaiti and Blackwater rivers in the northeast and the Otututu (Rough) River in the southwest. Mixtures of beech, broadleaf and podocarp forest prevail at lower altitudes giving way to pure beech forest, sub-alpine scrub and tussock grassland and herbfields at higher altitudes. The area supports populations of kea, great spotted kiwi (roroa), kaka and blue duck.

Wilderness areas are managed to preserve indigenous biodiversity and natural features.
There are only eight wilderness areas in New Zealand and if this proposal is successful the number will increase to 10.

“While these proposals were originally mooted in 1979, it is this Labour-Alliance coalition government that is taking action to make them a reality, " said Ms Lee. “Public input will play a key role in the process for making a decision on whether to confer wilderness status."

She says New Zealand is fortunate it still has wildland areas that are undeveloped and relatively unmodified by humans. Many of these areas survive because of their remote location and difficult terrain, which make other land uses economically marginal.
But even these remote places are under pressure from people and their activities, and incremental changes can occur that will mean their wilderness character will be lost.

“By creating these wilderness areas we are preserving options for future generations. Wilderness provides a balance to those areas of conservation land that are used more intensively for tourism and recreation,” Ms Lee said.

Information packs on these proposals can be obtained free of charge by visiting DOC’s website at The information packs can also be viewed or purchased at local DOC offices on the West Coast and at the Department of Conservation office in Christchurch.

Interested members of the public are invited to make a submission by Friday 10 May 2002.


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