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The Department of Conservation (DOC) is encouraging more recreational pursuits such as four-wheel driving, mountain biking, horse riding, hunting and tramping in its conservation parks.

Date:  15 July 2013

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is encouraging more recreational pursuits such as four-wheel driving, mountain biking, horse riding, hunting and tramping in its conservation parks.

Otago has three conservation parks – Te Papanui near Dunedin, Oteake in Central Otago and Hāwea near Wanaka. DOC has outlined its vision to attract more people to use these parks in its recently released draft Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) for Otago.

The draft CMS says Otago’s conservation parks have the potential to increase recreational opportunities without compromising natural and historic values and the visitor experience, including for commercial recreation.

Mountain biking beside Lake Hawea in Hāwea Conservation Park. Photo: John Robinson
Mountain biking beside Lake Hawea in Hāwea Conservation Park

With an area of 105,000 ha, Otago’s largest conservation park, Hāwea, is attracting more walkers now that Te Araroa - New Zealand’s trail, passes through Timaru Valley in the park’s southeast corner, Wanaka Area Manager Paul Hellebrekers said.

“We would like to see Hāwea Conservation Park used for a greater range of activities to complement the activities that occur in the neighbouring Mount Aspiring National Park (MANP) to the West. For example, aircraft can be used to transport trampers, hunters and anglers into many places within the park. There is a less restrictive approach to the use of aircraft than in MANP,” Mr Hellebrekers said.

Explaining the benefit of conservation parks, he said: “Hāwea brought together many large tracts of land to be managed in its entirety as one land unit. This meant we could more consistently manage how that land is to be protected and used by the public.”

You can view the draft Otago CMS on the DOC website. You have your say on conservation parks by filling out a submission form on the webpage. Submissions close on 13 September 2013.

Further information

Conservation parks were created from long-held conservation areas and former pastoral lease land via tenure review.

They protect natural and historic resources within the park and facilitate public recreation and enjoyment.

Each of Otago’s three parks has outstanding landscapes and distinctive ecosystems. They provide important ecosystem services such as protecting water quality and quantity for towns and irrigation. For example, Te Papanui is the source for Dunedin’s water supply; the economic value of this to Dunedin and nearby communities is considerable.

Recreation opportunities with the three parks include tramping, four-wheel driving, hunting, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, heli-skiing, fishing, motor bike touring, horse riding, picnicking and visiting historic sites.

Minimising conflict between recreation users, particularly motorised and non-motorised activities, may become an important management issue for DOC if more people visit the parks.

Background information

A CMS is a statutory document that provides strategic direction for DOC’s management of public conservation land integrating legislation, policy, strategic goals over a ten-year period. It aims, through conversations with communities, to show how natural, historic and cultural heritage of regional and local importance fit into the national context.

A CMS also:

  • identifies how to integrate management of places to achieve national conservation outcomes;
  • clarifies priorities for management of conservation resources;
  • guides decision making (e.g. on applications to undertake commercial activities);
  • describes conservation outcomes to be achieved;
  • sets out a framework to increase conservation efforts over the next decade recognising that the department cannot do it alone.

The draft Otago CMS has been prepared by DOC in consultation with the Otago Conservation Board, Ngai Tahu and the community.

Draft CMSs have also been released for Canterbury and Southland.


Andrea Crawford
+64 3 474 6905

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