New Zealand has three areas that have been designated World Heritage sites by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. By being granted this status, not only are they recognized for their outstanding importance, but it ensures they will be preserved for the future.
There are currently more than 800 UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world. They are granted such status on the basis of either their natural or cultural significance. In addition to three currently listed from New Zealand, there are a further eight sites that have been submitted for consideration.
Two of New Zealand's World Heritage areas are readily accessible to the public and one isn't. Read on to discover more about these wonderful areas of special beauty.
Tongariro National Park, North Island
Tongariro National Park is in the middle of the North Island, just to the south of Lake Taupo. It was the first national park established in New Zealand and became a World Heritage site in 1990. The park lies along the "Ring of Fire" volcanic line that passes through much of the Pacific and contains many volcanic features. These include the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
The Tongariro National Park is very popular for outdoor activities such as walking and hiking (including the popular day walk around Lake Rotopounamu). The North Island's two main ski areas, Whakapapa and Turoa are on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu.
- About the Tongariro National Park
- Skiing at Whakapapa Ski Resort
Te Wahipounamu, South Island
Te Wahipounamu covers a large section of the south west of the South Island. It encompasses four national parks - Westland National Park, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The total area is more than 2.6 million hectares, around ten percent of the total land area of New Zealand. It is home to some of the most pristine flora and fauna in the world, with many unique and several endangered species of birds and plants. It became a World Heritage area in 1990.
There is an amazing variety of things to do and places to see in this vast area.
- Aoraki/Mount Cook
Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand
Of the many small islands which are part of New Zealand, the Sub-Antarctic Group are amongst the most remote. Located far to the south of the South Island in the southern ocean, this world heritage site is made up of five groups of islands and the surrounding waters, scattered across a wide area. The groups are the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island Group and the Snares.
All of the islands are uninhabited and a permit is required to go there. They are a few scheduled tourist expeditions each year (see Heritage Expeditions). However the wildlife is extremely diverse and significant and the islands are nesting grounds for many species of seabirds and penguins.