November 28, 2019 1 Comment

Kahurangi National Park is the second largest national park in New Zealand. In Maori the name means treasured possession and to locals its most certainly that. Designated a national park in 1996 the park includes the Tasman wilderness area, an area with no huts or tracks that remains completely undeveloped. Kahurangi holds a special place in the history of Absolute Wilderness too, Grant and Andrew came up with the idea for Absolute Wilderness sitting beside an alpine tarn deep within the park.

With numerous areas of limestone and marble the caving potential in Kahurangi is virtually unlimited. Both the longest and the deepest cave systems in New Zealand are found within the park. Advances in cave exploration may mean the park one day has the longest and deepest caves in the southern hemisphere. 

Now open to mountain bikers for part of the year, the Heaphy Track provides some of the best multi day mountain biking in the country. The track is also the oldest in the park and the only great walk. Recently Takahe were released on Gouland Downs, this is the first release on the mainland outside of a fenced sanctuary and important conservation milestone.

Home to over half of all the plant species found in New Zealand, at least 60 unique species are only found within the park. The mountains in the north of the park are a stronghold for giant powelliphanta land snails. This incredible biodiversity is a result of the park largely missing any significant glaciation during the last ice age. Whilst most species have been documented, new species are still occasionally discovered.

Although the Wangapeka track is entirely within the national park there is the very real threat of a road been built along the length of the track. Not only would a road destroy the track completely it would cut the park in two and have an detrimental impact on the wildlife found in the area. 

We’re keen to hear about what makes Kahurangi special to you. Tell us on Facebook or leave a comment below.

1 Response

Kieran Mckay
Kieran Mckay

August 09, 2017

Why is Kahurangi National park so special? For me its adventure and the contrasts….I look up at the marble mountains and limestone hills of the park with excitement and awe and wonder, what else are you hiding? Will I be lucky enough this year to discover some more of your incredible secrets?

It is more than this. though…

It is the senselessness of it it all.
Climbing pitch after pitch while lugging a heavy pack of gear, feeling the exhaustion creep into my limbs and body like a insidious disease as I negotiate small cracks and bully this uncaring pack of kit through the cave, pushing, pulling and kicking it and cursing its inert form. Getting pounded by freezing cold water that thunders onto my head and soaks my overalls and poly pro clothing coating me in an ice cold blanket. Shivering with cold that runs so deep I wondering if I would ever feel the glow of warmth again.

It is thew opportunities for exploration and discovery.
Strolling through huge hallways, canyons and rivers deep inside the mountains, finding a world no one knew existed and being the first to shine a light into a landscape that formed before mankind arrived on this plane. Walking passed exquisite jewel like formations, wading through crystal clear pools and abseiling big shafts. There is so much left for us to explore.

Its the special moments of camaraderie. In a world where everyone wants to know where everyone is, we can be exploring deep underground inside Kaurangi in places where no one on this planet knows where we are. If anything goes wrong you are totally dependent on your mates for survival. There is no EPIRB to set off, no cell phone reception, there is just the uncaring cold and darkness and the warmth and spirit of those in the team to keep you going.

Its the contrasts of landscapes
Fighting your way out of a deep cave up pitch after pitch, tired and exhausted covered head to toe in grit and grime you flop down on the marble at the cave entrance after 8 days in the dark. For 8 days your horizon has been the distance your light could shine, the colours underground were sombre blacks and browns Out of the cave the sky is blue the sun is warm. At your feet lie basins full of golden tussock and view of the mountains and valleys of the park stretch off to the horizon. The only sound is the wind rustling the grasses and the distant cry of a kea, there is nothing else. For a moment you feel like you are the only person in the whole world. Nothing else seems to matter…

Kieran Mckay

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