Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, the fifth conservation park in the Canterbury high country, is now officially open.

Date:  22 April 2009

Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, the fifth conservation park in the Canterbury high country, is now officially open. Its 93,800 hectares bring together 11 pieces of public conservation land across the spectacular landscapes in the Two Thumb Range, including a large segment of renowned Mesopotamia Station.  

Opening the park, Cantabrian Hon. Kate Wilkinson, Associate Minister of Conservation, described it as an area of “national, historic, ecological and economic significance”. 

Brabazon Range from Crooked Spur Hut. Photo: George Iles.
Brabazon Range from Crooked Spur Hut

“With increased public land come increased tourism opportunities over a range of activities. These opportunities are important to our economy. Other conservation parks have already given an important boost to places like Omarama and Twizel and the same is likely to happen to places near Te Kahui Kaupeka.”

Activities already on offer in the park include guided walking, mountaineering, heli-skiing, horse trekking, hunting, cross country skiing and mountain biking. The new Richmond Trail is proving popular with walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders.

“The park creation has filled in a 25 km-gap in Te Araroa—the walking trail stretching from Cape Reinga to Bluff—between the Rangitata River and Lake Tekapo. This is a significant gain for trampers as are new walking links to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the West Coast,” said the Associate Minister.

“Te Kahui Kaupeka is a gain for our natural and historic heritage too. The park encompasses stonefields, herbfields, alpine screes, tall tussock grasslands, shrublands and beech forest. Within these habitats are threatened bird species including blue duck/whio, New Zealand falcon/kārearea, kea, black-fronted tern/tara and the wrybill/ngutu pare, along with lizards, geckos, grasshoppers and weta species.”

The park has a rich history going back to early Māori exploration and occupation, followed by a considerable pastoral farming history. Mesopotamia Station has particular significance. From Samuel Butler, the English writer who established it and is the best-known station occupant, to the brothers General and J.R. Campbell and George McMillan, through to the present station runholders, the Prouting family, the station and its people have contributed much to our history.

“Today is made possible thanks to the patience and determination of Laurie, Anne, Sue and Malcolm Prouting,” noted the Associate Minister. “Their foresight in undertaking tenure review here is a real conservation gain for the New Zealand public. I hope many will take the opportunity to get out and enjoy it”


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