4 current alerts for Kahurangi National Park Read details...

16 April 2015: Upper Gridiron Hut

The wood burner at the Upper Gridiron Hut has been removed due to its poor state and dangerous condition. There is currently no heating provided inside the hut.

26 March 2015: Kohaihai flooding - alternative track

The section of track around the Kohaihai River mouth may experience flooding issues when the river mouth becomes blocked. 

An alternative track has been put in place to allow visitors to bypass this area when this occurs.

11 March 2015: Scott's Beach track construction

Track construction and realignment is being carried out on a section of Scott's Beach. Machinery will be on site, and visitors can only proceed through the construction site when approval is given. Work is expected to be completed by 30 April 2015.

For public safety the track will be closed at night between 5 pm and 8 am. Closure times will be reassessed once work on the current section of track has been completed.

11 March 2015: High wasp numbers in Nelson

Be aware of the potential of wasp nests along the tracks and around amenity areas and campsites. Always carry antihistamine and especially an epipen if you are allergic to wasp stings. Carry a reliable means of communication such as a mobile or locator beacon in case you have a severe allergic reaction.

Introduction

Located in the northwest corner of New Zealand's South Island, Kahurangi is New Zealand's second largest national park. In places it is an untracked wilderness, elsewhere a wonderful network of tracks lets you explore wild rivers, high plateaux and alpine herbfields, and coastal forests.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Camping
  • Caving
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Rafting
  • Walking and tramping
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In this section

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About track difficulties

      About this place

      Nature and conservation

      Nikau Palms, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park. Photo: Rebecca Mitchinson.
      Nikau Palms, Heaphy Track,
      Kahurangi National Park

      Created in 1996, Kahurangi is one of New Zealand's newest national parks, and at 452,002 hectares it is also the second largest.

      Translated, its name has a number of meanings including 'treasured possession', an apt description of its wonderfully diverse natural and recreational values.

      Geology

      Kahurangi is a geologically complex area. Much of its rock is sedimentary, laid down in an ancient sea, then faulted, uplifted and scoured, in places, by glaciers. Parts of the region are limestone or marble, these areas are characterised by an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops. New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park.

      Vegetation

      The vegetation cover changes markedly from one side of the park to the other and from the coast to the tops of mountains. In the east, beech forest is dominant while to the west you will see podocarp forest with a rich understory of ferns, vines and shrubs. On the coast stands of nikau palms give the forest an almost tropical look. 80% of New Zealand's alpine species can be found in the high reaches of the park.

      Powelliphanta snail. Photo: Rebecca Mitchinson.
      Powelliphanta snail

      Native animals

      Due to the varied landscape numerous different habitats have been created which support many different creatures.

      Several threatened species survive here from the diminutive rock wren to one of New Zealand's largest birds - the great spotted kiwi. The park is home to our largest cave spider and the smallest of our giant weta - a flightless insect a bit like a grasshopper.

      20 species of carnivorous land snail (Powelliphanta) live in the park; they can sometimes be seen near limestone outcrops though they tend to only come out from hiding on damp nights to feed on native worms that can grow up to a metre long.

      Mangarakau Swamp

      Mangarakau Swamp is a large, relatively pristine freshwater swamp, located at the southern end of the Whanganui Inlet. 

      The inlet is south of Farewell Spit, on the west coast. It is one of the largest and least modified estuaries in New Zealand.

      This is a magical location - to the west are tidal bays and inlets and towering limestone bluffs, and to the east the forested ranges of Kahurangi National Park. Take your binoculars - this is a great place to see wetland birds like the Australasian bitterns/matuku and fernbirds/mātā.

      To get there, take the road from Collingwood towards Farewell Spit. Turn left at Pakawau Inlet across to the Whanganui Inlet and then follow the road south around the eastern shoreline. There are toilets and an information centre.

      Read more about Mangarakau Swamp and other wetlands around the country in the Magical places - 40 wetlands to visit in New Zealand brochure.

      Mangarakau Swamp. Photo: Karen Denyer.
      Mangarakau Swamp

      History and culture

      Parts of Kahurangi were occupied by Maori from the 14th Century and the coast was much travelled by those seeking pounamu (greenstone). In 1846 Charles Heaphy, a draughtsman with the New Zealand Company, and Thomas Brunner were the first Europeans to tramp the north west coast of the park. Later well worn packtracks were built by those wanting easy access to the Aorere goldfield, New Zealand's first gazetted goldfield.

      Lord of the Rings

      Kuhurangi National Park was a location for Dimrill Dale and the outcrop south of Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

      Find out about these and other Lord of the Rings filming locations.

      Getting there

      Kahurangi is in the northwest corner of New Zealand's South Island. Motueka, Takaka, Karamea, Tapawera and Murchison are the park's gateway towns.

      Roads from all the gateway towns lead into carparks within the park and a network of tracks.

      There are regular bus services to Motueka, Takaka and, in summer, to the start of the Heaphy Track. The bus service through to Christchurch can also drop people at a number of access points into the park. There are also companies in most of the local towns that offer an on-demand shuttle service.

      Know before you go

      River crossing on Leslie Karamea track, Kahurangi National Park. Photo: Diana Parr.
      River crossing on Leslie Karamea track, Kahurangi National Park

      If you are going to be using the track system in the park for overnight trips make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared.

      Make sure your group has a capable leader and that everyone is carrying a sleeping bag, cooking utensils, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, gloves, a hat, and several layers of warm (wool or fleece) clothing.

      Please check at any of the local Department of Conservation offices for up-to-date information on weather and track conditions.

      Contacts

      Nelson Visitor Centre
      Phone:      +64 3 546 9339
      Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
      79 Trafalgar Street
      Nelson 7010
      Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
      Full office details
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