New Zealand’s national parks have unique natural and historical and cultural characteristics which are cherished by New Zealanders and contribute to their sense of home and what it means to be a New Zealander. They are areas preserved in perpetuity for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use and enjoyment of the public.
People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds go to national parks for a variety of reasons: to be inspired by the scenery, unique features, sights and sounds of wild nature, to experience solitude, remoteness, peace and natural quiet, to experience nature on nature’s terms, to experience the challenge of being self-reliant and adventurous, to explore, enjoy and learn about new and natural places, to share experiences, to maintain active, healthy lifestyles, and “to get away from it all”.
People can also have an adverse impact on the very qualities which attract them to national parks in the first place. In addition, the enjoyment of some can be at the expense of the enjoyment of others. A range of activities and behaviours, facilities and services, and large groups, can erode enjoyment of national parks in their natural state and as places of refuge from commercialism and urbanisation.
The traditional New Zealand back country experience has a distinctive character based on basic facilities. This requires self-reliance and its focus is on nature being met on nature’s terms.
Some places within national parks have attracted people as tourists for over a century and businesses have been established to cater to their needs and enhance their experiences. This activity has become part of the experience of people at those places.
The General Policy recognises the different, and sometimes potentially conflicting, aspirations of people to enjoy national parks and seeks to find a balance which facilitates benefit, use and enjoyment while respecting the rights of others to do the same, maintaining what is distinctive about recreation in the backcountry of New Zealand national parks, and preserving them in their natural state for future generations.
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