New Zealand World Heritage Areas
New Zealand World Heritage Areas are conservation areas of extraordinary cultural and environmental significance. UNESCO World Heritage status ensures areas of 'outstanding universal value' are protected, and their nature and cultural significance can be fully enjoyed by future generations.
Three areas of New Zealand have been awarded prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status:
- New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands
- Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand
- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands
Consisting of the Snares, Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island, the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands are located in the Southern Ocean, south-east of New Zealand.
With a high level of biodiversity, the Sub-Antarctic Islands are characterized by rare endemic bird and plant species. Particularly noted for their large numbers of pelagic seabirds and penguins, these islands are extremely important. Out of the 126 bird species found on the islands, five breed nowhere else in the world.
Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand
Shaped by millions of years of glacial movement, the fiords and coasts of South West New Zealand are outstandingly beautiful. Two-thirds of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Park is covered with forest - beech and podocarps - some of which is over 800 years old. The only alpine parrot in the world - the kea – also lives in the park, as well as the endangered flightless takahe, and myriad unique marine animals.
Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area is comprised of four of New Zealand’s most important National Parks: Westland National Park, Mt Aspiring National Park, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and Fiordland National Park.
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park was the first “cultural landscape” to be awarded World Heritage status, in 1993. Tongariro National Park’s volcanoes and mountain ranges are highly significant Maori areas, as well as important natural habitats.
The area was also New Zealand's first National Park - local Maori gifting the park to all New Zealand people in 1887.
Tongariro National Park is a favourite walking, tramping and hiking location, with the stunning Tongariro Crossing considered by many to be New Zealand’s best short walk.