The Waimakariri Area covers the inland foothills and Southern Alps in the eastern central South Island, from the Rakaia River through to Clarence and Conway Rivers north of Hanmer and west to the main divide. Within this 11,880 km region, there are 51 gazetted public conservation lands including Arthur's Pass National Park, four forest/conservation parks, part of the Lewis Park National Reserve, 15 conservation areas and 14 scenic/nature reserves. Landforms include braided rivers, thermal springs, extensive mountain ranges with natural grasslands and forests.
Collectively, the conservation estate in Waimakariri covers 376,000 hectares of land and natural resources managed by DOC to preserve their wildlife, natural, scenic, recreational and cultural values for future generations. The Waimakariri Area is administrated from the Area Office located in Rangiora, with field centres in Hanmer Springs and Arthur's Pass.
Major projects to protect endangered species and their habitats in the Waimakariri Area include: Operation Ark - a South Island-wide programme designed to protect the critically endangered kākāriki/orange-fronted parakeet from predatory rats and stoats. It is estimated that there are only 2-300 kākāriki surviving in pockets of beech forest valleys in Arthur's Pass National Park and Lake Sumner Forest Park. Roroa/giant spotted kiwi recovery programme - Arthur's Pass is the southernmost habitat for roroa. Its population is under threat from predatory stoats, with an estimated 70% of kiwi chicks killed by stoats each year.
Funding support from the Bank of New Zealand has enabled the local community to do stoat trapping to protect kiwi. Moana Rua/Lake Pearson Wildlife Refuge was set up to protect the Australasian crested grebe/kāmana and its habitat. It is estimated that only 3-400 grebes remain in the South Island and they are fully protected. Flora biodiversity and re-vegetation programmes - there are 57 threatened native plant species in the Waimakariri area, including 25 acutely threatened, and two species now presumed extinct. Biodiversity staff collect seeds annually for re-vegetation programmes. Two on-going projects are the Medbury Reserve in the Culverden Basin of which 70% was destroyed by fire, and the Kura Tāwhiti (Castle Hill Conservation Area) habitat restoration.
Recreation and Historic
Waimakariri Area offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities for tramping, mountain biking, kayaking, recreational hunting and fishing. In addition to the 874 km of tracks, 102 huts, 633 structures and 211 visitor sites managed by the Area's staff, there are over 50 recreational concessionaries. These include four commercial ski fields, heli and cross country skiing, jet boating, white water rafting, commercial kayaking, quad bike tours, and guided tours and hunting/fishing trips, to name a few.
The historic trans-alpine passes are popular tramps for moderate to experienced trampers. The Harpers Pass Track in Lake Sumner Forest Park was the main pathway to and from the West Coast for Māori when trading for pounamu (greenstone). It continued to be an important route during the gold rush in 1864-65. The St James Walkway (5 days) is suitable for beginners and families. It features beech forest, sub-alpine zone and open high country farm land, with great huts. Kura Tāwhiti (Castle Hill) is a Topuni Māori site of limestone outcrops in the tussock grassland basin between the Torlesse and Craigieburn ranges. The site is of high cultural and spiritual value to local Ngāi Tahu.
Working with Communities
The Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre is the fourth busiest DOC visitor centre in the country with 160,000 people through the doors annually. Waimakariri Area has a diverse range of communities, interest groups, concessionaires, neighbours and associates; managing these relationships is an important focus along with advocating and promoting conservation awareness Current community and group projects include the Arthur's Pass Community kiwi recovery programme and stoat trapping; the Kura Tawhiti habitat restoration project in partnership with Ngāi Tahu; and the Ashley/Rakahuri Rivercare Group.
Waimakariri Area Office
Phone: + 64 3 313 0820
Fax: + 64 3 313 0839
32 River Road
PO Box 349