A proposal for a Remarkables National Park

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, June 25th, 2017 - 9 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment - Tags: ,

There’s a proposal for a new national park, covering the Remarkables and high tussock country in central Otago including the Garvie Mountains, Old Woman Range, and Old Man Range. It’s been promoted by the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand and supported by Forest and Bird.

The FMC site is here.

And the Facebook link is here.

The reasons for the proposal are outlined here.

Federated Mountain Clubs President Peter Wilson said: “The proposed park is a long-held dream of conservationists and recreationalists, notably Sir Alan Mark, who was one of the first to see the beauty and the botanical richness in our high-country tussock landscapes.”

The Remarkables National Park seems a pretty useful area to protect given that it is one of the main supports of our entire tourism industry as they fly in, and they take endless pictures of them to savour about our country. Personally I’ve never tramped there other than dabbling around its shoreline, and otherwise stick to the existing Great Walks. But that dramatic part of New Zealand’s wilderness hits you as soon as you get off the plane, both as bright snowy air and visually.

Bits of this area already have some limited conservation protection. But consider what national parks are for. The National Parks Act of 1980 was established to codify the purpose, governance and selection of national parks. It begins by establishing the definition of a national park:

“It is hereby declared that the provisions of the Act shall have effect for the purpose of preserving in perpetuity as national parks, for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public, areas of New Zealand that contain scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that their preservation is in the national interest.”

I can’t think of a better place to fulfill that Acts’ purpose. We haven’t had a new one formed since Prime Minister Helen Clark opened Rakiura National Park in 2002, fifteen years ago.

The launch is of course timed to be political. President Peter Wilson said “We want conservation and outdoor issues to be dinner table conversations around the country heading into the general election.” He is calling for the Federation’s 20,000 members to put this issue and others to politicians that are seeking their vote. Link that with the massive membership of Forest and Bird and you have something worth considering in the political mind.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the parties position themselves on this one – I think it makes so much intuitive sense. Who knows, maybe the Southland candidates from all parties could figure out where they stood on it – perhaps our good Prime Minister from Dipton could be drawn on the matter. So far the Minister of Conservation has been very coy. Would be good to hear their thoughts.

The proposed national park links four district councils, and traverses or neighbours many iconic high country stations.

If you happen to be in the area, there will be a public meeting about this national park proposal and an official launch in conjunction with the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in Queenstown on July 8th.

9 comments on “A proposal for a Remarkables National Park”

  1. Stunned mullet 1

    A proposal everyone should support.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1


      What’s less clear is why anyone would support the National Party’s approach to conservation, considering DOC has been colonised by the Ministry of Tourism, Ruataniwha Dam, etc.

    • saveNZ 1.2

      +1 Stunned mullet

  2. John up North 2

    I wholeheartedly endorse proper financial support to protect all National Parks and lands under the care of DOC.

    Unfortunately this current Nats Govt would rather build the East/West link and other bogus “infrastructure”.

    And our “Minister of Conservation” Maggie, would rather use DOC funds not to protect our unique landscapes, flora and fauna but to take people like Forest and Bird to court so she can allow unsustainable irrigation schemes to destroy said unique landscapes, flora and fauna. WTF??

    This corrupt Nats gang has got to go!

  3. weka 3

    National Park in that area, all good. Wondering now what’s happened with the Nevis Dam proposal.

    The Remarkables National Park seems a pretty useful area to protect given that it is one of the main supports of our entire tourism industry as they fly in, and they take endless pictures of them to savour about our country.

    Here’s the problem with that. The end result is that you have RW/neoliberal govts making DOC an organisation that works against conservation where there is a conflict between nature and greed because nature is now codified as an economic resource (i.e. tourism). Thus we have the Ruataniwha Dam situation, local govt trading away the last remaining native ecosystems on the Canterbury plains via leasing to farmers and DOC supporting that, and DOC being pro- the industrialisation of National Parks e.g. where they supported the Queenstown/Milford private tourism road through Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.

    It’s insane. DOC is prevented from opposing development within the conservation estate, and it’s now being coopted into actively supporting it.

    If we genuinely believe that international tourism is a valid reason to set up National Parks, then I’d like to see the above addressed. Because much of that has happened sometimes by stealth since the Act was written in the 80s, and a huge part of the problem is how neoliberalism has changed the culture of DOC and legal precedent set. That’s not going to be easily reversed just by a change of govt, it’s going to take work, and if we have lefties who are essentially making a neoliberal argument for conservation then it will be that much harder.

    The point of calling on tourism isn’t to protect our environment it’s to develop it further. That’s what is happening as we speak.

    If we don’t genuinely believe that international tourism is a valid reason to set up National Parks then can we please stop using this argument out of expediency or because we think we don’t have enough other valid reasons, because it buys into everything I just said above.

    • Graeme 3.1

      The Nevis dam proposal is effectively dead. The whole Nevis valley in now ONL in the Central Otago district plan, https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/central-otago/whole-nevis-valley-now-outstanding , and Amy Adams removed the provision in the conservation order that allowed the hydro proposal. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister-acts-prevent-damming-nevis-river

      I think Pioneer has sold the land too, but not sure about that. I understand there were pretty significant engineering challenges in building and operating the scheme as well. It was along the Nevis Cardrona fault, the damage from which (huge slow moving landslides) scuppered think big proposals for hydro development on the Kawarau. As an aside, the power line supplying Queenstown goes through this country which will be interesting when we get a good wobble. Queenstown’s got less than 5% embedded generation so it’ll be lights out for quite a while.

      I’ve got really mixed views about the National Park idea. The area’s HUGE, really huge, and I just can’t see it being adequately administered and maintained at that level. The current tenure works fairly well, but by default because not many go there. give it National Park status and we’ll see more debacles like on Old Man last year. Maybe a better model would be to tweek and extend the existing tenures to give more control and / or access where needed.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        Thanks for thoughts that relate to practicality and not just idealism, so important to combine these.

  4. I hiked up and along the west faces of the Remarkables when I was a young man, tenting beside Lake Alta before there was a road up there and before skiing became the remarkable thing to do. I felt I was on the roof of the world. I also walked the Nevis road on several occasions, once getting snowed-in in mid-summer; 2 days in an old hut in which I’m sure a bat lived. Great places to walk, though 4 wheel-drive vehicles spoil the experience if you encounter them there, as they do in Macetown, Skippers, the Branches, and anywhere else that was once quiet.

  5. swordfish 5


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