The Waiorongomai Valley in Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park is one of five Department of Conservation sites around New Zealand to be awarded the international Green Flag.
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said the Green Flags were symbols of tourism excellence and indicated the sites were premium destinations and well worth a visit by both New Zealanders and international visitors.
The five DOC sites awarded the Green Flags for the first time this year are Lake Matheson Walk, near Fox Glacier Village; Ship Creek, Haast; Ruakuri Walk, Waitomo; Ruapekapeka Pa, Northland and Wairongomai, Bay of Plenty.
The Green Flag Awards were established in the United Kingdom in 1996 to recognise and reward parks and green spaces that meet a set of eight criteria including sustainability, conservation and heritage, community involvement, and marketing.
Green Flag status lasts one year, and each site is reassessed annually to determine whether it will retain its flag. Two sites previously awarded Green Flags - Karangahake Gorge in the Bay of Plenty and Pureora-Ongarue Timber Trail near Taupo - have both had their status renewed this year.