This guide to New Zealand Forest Parks has been compiled by the New Zealand Information Network to assist outdoor enthusiasts. New Zealand’s 20 Forest Parks preserve much of the ancient beauty and grandeur of our native forests. The parks are administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC), which protects these fragile areas from damage by introduced predators and from further inroads by human activity.
A popular playground and recreational forest park for outdoor enthusiasts can be found just 30 km from Wellington. The Rimutaka Forest Park is the southernmost range of the North Island’s continuous chain of mountains from Wellington to East Cape. The range is relatively low but deceptively rugged.
As you tramp along these sharp-crested, tussock ridges, untracked forests fall away down misty spurs. You feel like you’re on top of the world. The Ruahine Forest Park lies south-west of Napier, running from the steep gorges of the Ngaruroro River, 100 km down a straight spine of rugged ridges to the Manawatu Gorge.
Come and explore one of our least-known wilderness areas, hidden away in the southernmost part of the South Island. Here life is unhurried and moves in synch with nature. Catlins Forest Park is well off the beaten track, straddling the border between Otago and Southland. It is found the Southern Scenic Route, 50 km from Invercargill and 100 km from Dunedin.
Take a stroll in New Zealands oldest established forest park. The Tararua Forest Park provides tramping and hunting opportunities right at the back door of large urban communities. Wellingtonians have adopted the Tararuas as their favourite stamping ground and the countrys first tramping club was formed here in 1919.
From Auckland, as you look across the Firth of Thames, you see a dramatic skyline of extinct volcanoes on the Coromandel Range. They’re worth a closer look. The Coromandel Forest Park sprawls over these ancient eroded landforms on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, only 1½ hours drive from the ‘City of Sails’.
A very prominent snow-capped mountain summit with views forever, towers above the West Coast highway near Porter’s Pass. Mt Enys (2,195 metres), in the Craigieburn Forest Park, has the singular honour of being the highest foothill summit accessible from a major highway in the South Island.