UNESCO Heritage Sites in New Zealand
A World Heritage Site – if that`s what you are interested in, then we can tell you where to find them in New Zealand! But first, a brief intro what actually is a World Heritage Site. It is a landmark or area selected by UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A landmark is named a heritage site because of having scientific, cultural, historical or other forms of significance. This classification is made for the conservation and protection of the sites. There are criterions under which landmarks or sites are revised to become the World Heritage, e.g., a cultural heritage site has to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, it has to exhibit an important interchange of human values, etc. A natural heritage site has to contain areas of exceptional beauty, represent the planet`s history, contain threatened species, etc. So there is a lot to go through before becoming UNESCO World Heritage Site! Though there are both pros and cons even for this kind of listing. Well, that is true that a label “World Heritage Site” actually attracts tourists, therefore some sites that should be conserved and protected become crowded tourist spots. Also, site listing bids might be lengthy and costly, putting poorer countries at a disadvantage. But well, here we are at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in New Zealand! When visiting those, always remember to respect and protect culture, nature, and history!
1. Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand
This is an area in South Island of New Zealand that covers about 10% of the country`s landmass! It includes four national parks – Fjordland, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook and Westland. The landscape there is just spectacular – here you will find country`s highest mountains, longest glaciers, impressive fjords, rocky cliffs, wild rivers, waterfalls, and lakes. Mount Cook is New Zealand’s tallest peak from which hiking trails will bring you to the spectacular Tasman Glacier. Milford Sound welcomes cruise boats from which to see the waterfalls and dolphins and penguins around. Yes, not only the scenery but also the wildlife is special! These national parks are home to keas, the only alpine parrots in the world, New Zealand`s rarest kiwi and other endangered birds, as well as plants unique for this area. This is the largest and also the most untouched area of New Zealand’s natural ecosystems so must be called as a wonder to protect.
2. Tongariro National Park
This is New Zealand`s oldest national park located in central North Island, it was also the sixth one established in the whole world. Here you will see not only extinct volcanoes but three active ones as well like Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro that form just spectacular landscape. The mountains in this park have also a cultural and religious significance for the New Zealand`s indigenous Maori people – for them these mountains are a spiritual link between community and the nature around. Walking trails will bring you in shorter and longer several-day adventures from the snow-covered slopes and colourful craters to wide valleys and Maori religious sites. You will be amazed by flora and fauna here that will reveal mountain snowberries, orchids, fungi and more than 50 significant species of birds like blue duck, New Zealand falcon, North Island brown kiwi and others. Stunning place for hiking and winter sports!
3. New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands
The New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands consist of five island groups – the Snares, Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, and Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean south-east of New Zealand. These are New Zealand’s remotest protected natural areas, including some of the world’s least-modified islands. These islands and surrounding water basin is rich in wildlife and plants. Here you can find more than 100 bird species, 8 of which breed nowhere else in the world! 10 of the world’s 22 albatross species, the yellow-eyed penguin, land birds, also one of the world’s rarest ducks! Isolation and climate of these islands have created a perfect environment for undisturbed evolutionary process and biodiversity of flora and fauna there. Yes, because of this uniqueness islands have raised interest in tourists that brings up challenges in conservation of this place and protection of the endemic and threatened species. Therefore be mindful of every action you take!
There are three out of many places in New Zealand of just indescribable beauty. Enjoy these unique UNESCO Heritage Sites and always remember to respect and protect!