Fiordland National Park
Recognizing that this area was special and in need of protection, Fiordland National Park was created in 1952. This stunning park offers amazing and dramatic landscapes that will leave you in awe of natures power. The fiords have been more than 100,000 years in the making as glaciers slowly carved out these incredible natural works of art.
In 1990, this spectacular park became known as Te Wahipounamu received UNESCOs World Heritage site designation. Its new name pays tribute to New Zealands unique mineral, greenstone. The only known place that this mineral occurs is on South Island and it in a very significant part in Maori culture. South Island is called Te Wahi Pounamu in Maori or The Place of Greenstone.
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The largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, it is also the wettest area in the country. Some parts of the park receive upwards of seven meters of precipitation a year. It is almost beyond ones imagination to envision that much rain falling in an area. The rain nourishes lush thick rain forests and feeds the many waterfalls around the fiords.
Due to the rugged terrain, wet weather, and extreme isolation: this area is mostly untouched by man and the parks interior boasts vast tracts of virgin podocarp and southern beech forests. It is not unusual here to find trees that have grown undisturbed for 800 or more years. The forests and mountains cover about two thirds of Te Wahipounamu and provide a magnificent backdrop for the fiords.
Te Wahipounamu provides a refuge for the Takahe, thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered here in 1948, and the Kakapo, the last remaining habitat of the only nocturnal, flightless parrot in the world. There are intensive recovery programs underway for both of these indigenous birds. In addition to these birds, the vast park is home to many of New Zealands native creatures.
The Kakapo Recovery Program is showing some success after the decimation of the birds by feral cats, rats and stoats. One must put in perspective what success means. In 1986, only 22 Kakapos could be found with a high male population. Today, in the safety of predator free sanctuaries, there are 124 Kakapos with a healthier male to female ratio. While there may be a few in the wilds of South Island, it is doubtful that they will escape predation.
High in the Murchison Mountains alpine grasslands, another flightless bird, the Takahe joins the Kakapo as critically endangered. With just over 200 existing birds, conservation efforts have been undertaken to restore the population. As with the Kakapo, these birds are not prolific breeders and that hampers the speed of the species recovery. Some of the population has been moved to predator free islands and are slowly gaining a foothold.
With over 500km of walking trails, one could wander for days in this wild and breathtaking park. Hunting and fishing is allowed provided that you have obtained the proper permits. Te Wahipounamu is a gem among gems and should be experienced.
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Posted in Traveling Post Date 01/31/2017