New conservation park for Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island. File photo / APN
Great Barrier Island. File photo / APN

A new conservation park is set for Great Barrier Island.

The new Aotea Conservation Park will consist of 12,109 hectares of land on the island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

It will be the Department of Conservation's largest park in the Auckland region and will be similar in size to the Auckland Council's Hunua and Waitakere Ranges parks.

The new park will include 18 different blocks of general stewardship land and will be New Zealand's largest area of possum-free forest, including native trees, kauri, pohutukawa, kanuka and the Great Barrier tree daisy.

There will be healthy bird populations of kaka, pateke (brown teal), puweto (spotless crake) and matata (fernbird).

The park will also have the most diverse range of native freshwater species of any offshore island in New Zealand, and populations of very rare frogs, native paua slugs and niho taniwha (chevron skink).

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced plans for the new park today at a community function in Claris with Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

"This new park will bring significant conservation, recreational and tourism benefits to Auckland. My ambition is that with improved facilities and stronger protection, we will see more Aucklanders choosing to visit and getting to know the natural wonders of their own city on Great Barrier Island," Dr Smith said.

He said there would be some delay in implementing the new park with the extensive storm damage to Great Barrier Island in the last two months.

"The immediate priority is the restoration of tracks, bridges, repair of huts, signage, campgrounds and the Department's office" Dr Smith said.

The Government has committed $2.5 million to the repairs.

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