Westland National Park


Westland National Park

      park in west-central South Island, New Zealand. Established in 1960, it shares a common boundary with Mount Cook National Park along the main divide of the Southern Alps. With an area of 454 square miles (1,175 square km), it extends from the Tasman Sea in the west to the steep northwestern face of the Southern Alps in the east.

      There are over 60 named glaciers in the park, although only the 2 largest, the Franz Josef and Fox, are readily accessible to tourists. The highest point is Mount Tasman, 11,473 feet (3,497 m), in the Southern Alps. The park is well dissected by rivers and streams fed by the heavy precipitation, which falls as both rain and snow. Three main rivers rise in the park and empty into the Tasman Sea: the Waiho, Cook, and Karangarua. Vegetation includes beech, manuka, rimu and other pines, miro, rata, cypress, and subalpine scrub; these shelter the park's varied birdlife, which includes species of teal, grebe, duck, kingfisher, thrush, skylark, and falcon. Gillespies Beach is a home for the only species of fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) breeding on the New Zealand mainland. Chamois, red deer, stoat, and thar form some of the wildlife. Fishing, hiking, and mountaineering provide recreation for visitors.

      In 1982 the park's boundaries were extended to cover the former state forest areas of South Okarito and Waikukupa; additional lands in the upper Karangarua River valley were added in 1983. With the nearby parks of Fiordland, Mount Aspiring, and Mount Cook, Westland National Park comprises Te Wahipounamu (South West New Zealand), a collective World Heritage site since 1990.

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Universalium. 2010.

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