Rangitahi/Molesworth Recreation Reserve
Image: Paul Mahoney | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A review of the conservation management plan for Rangitahi/Molesworth Recreation Reserve is taking place to look afresh at how this spectacular high county reserve is managed.

Date:  05 July 2022

The Department of Conservation and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura are together leading the preparation of a new plan for the reserve. Rangitahi is the Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and Ngāi Tahu name for this area. Using Rangitahi and Molesworth together gives mana to both names.  

The 180,787-hectare Rangitahi/Molesworth Recreation Reserve runs from the Awatere Valley in Marlborough to the Hurunui District in North Canterbury and is a vast landscape of towering mountains and wide river valleys.

DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager Phil Bradfield says public input into the plan review will guide the future management of Rangitahi/Molesworth Recreation Reserve. 

“Rangitahi/Molesworth is New Zealand’s largest recreation reserve, bigger than many of our national parks. It is valued for its outstanding biodiversity and natural landscape, as a stunning environment for recreation and for its rich cultural heritage.

“The review of the 2013 Molesworth Management Plan provides fresh opportunity to consider how its significant features should be protected and managed for everyone to enjoy the reserve into the future. The review process includes opportunity for New Zealanders to share with us their aspirations for the reserve.” 

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura Environmental Pou Leader/Coordinator Lorraine Hawke says, “The review is an opportunity to craft a plan to collaboratively care for the special taonga that is Rangitahi/Molesworth and guide decisions about its management for the future.”

Before developing a draft plan, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and DOC will be inviting interested groups and individuals to make suggestions for Rangitahi/Molesworth’s future management. The feedback will contribute to the development of a draft plan.

People can make suggestions through an online survey and find out more about the review process at Rangitahi/Molesworth Recreation Reserve review.

The Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board and Molesworth Steering Committee, which advises on management of Rangitahi/Molesworth, will provide advice to Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and DOC on the development of a draft plan.

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand has a lease for farming cattle on Rangitahi/Molesworth. It was due to expire at the end of June 2020 but was extended until June 2023 so the farming can continue while the plan review takes place.

The more than 4500 responses to a 2017 public survey that sought views on the future management of Rangitahi/Molesworth were taken into account in deciding to review the plan.

The survey ran for four months from 15 December 2017. The survey results showed desire for increased protection of the reserve’s biodiversity and natural landscape along with increased access for recreation, enhancement of its cultural and historic heritage, and environmentally sustainable farming.

Background information

Rangitahi/Molesworth came under DOC management as a recreation reserve in 2005. DOC and the farm management liaise closely in managing the reserve. Since 2005, conservation and public access have increased in integration with the farming operation and with support from the farm management.

The Molesworth Steering Committee includes representatives of DOC, Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp Farming Limited), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board and farming and recreation/conservation interests, and it has an independent chair.

The survey on Rangitahi/Molesworth’s current and future management met a 2013 Molesworth Management Plan requirement to seek public views on the future of the reserve ahead of the expiry of the farming lease. View a summary of the responses to the online survey

The management plan review process

  • Interested groups and the public will have opportunity to make suggestions for the management of Rangitahi/Molesworth that will be taken into account in developing a draft plan.
  • The draft plan is planned to be released in 2023. Public submissions will be invited on its proposals for management of the reserve for 40 working days.
  • Submitters will have opportunity to speak to their submissions at a public hearing after the closure of submissions.
  • The draft plan will be revised taking into account submissions.
  • The Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura will finalise the revised conservation management plan and approve it. It’s intended the new conservation management plan will be approved and come into effect in early 2024.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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