The park will enable increased public access to the island’s breath-taking beauty, while safeguarding its natural treasures and unique species.
“Aotea will bring significant tourism, recreation and conservation benefits to the island and the Auckland region,” Ms Barry says. “I have no doubt visitors will enjoy walking through its forests and spectacular coastal landscapes so close to our largest city.”
Created from reclassified stewardship land, Aotea Conservation Park spreads over more than 12,000 hectares, or 43 per cent of the island.
“It protects not only the landscape and native forests of the island for everyone to enjoy, but also helps ensure a future for rare animals like the chevron skink.”
Great Barrier is a crucial habitat for the chevron skink, which is one of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles, the North Island kaka, the pateke/brown teal and the black petrel.
Its forests contain mature kauri trees and are home to the Great Barrier tree daisy, a plant found only on the island.
An advisory committee of up to 10 members, drawn from the local community and iwi, will be established to assist the Department of Conservation running the park. Nominations open next week and will close at the end of May.
“The Government has already invested $2.5 million to repair damage to tracks, huts and other island infrastructure after last year’s storm,” Ms Barry says.