Some of the country's most high-profile environmental groups and lobbyists have written an open letter to the leaders of all parties who may form the next Government to protect and enhance our environment.

In it, they say that whichever party wins the drawn-out general election, there is now a strong expectation from the New Zealand public there must be clear gains for fresh water, climate change and conservation in the next three years.

Forest and Bird, Greenpeace New Zealand, WWF New Zealand, Fish & Game New Zealand and former Green Party leader Russel Norman are among 12 names on the letter, sent to National's Bill English, Labour's Jacinda Ardern, the Green Party's James Shaw, and New Zealand First's Winston Peters.

"A winner in this year's election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before," it says. "All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises."


It says there must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

"New Zealand's emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. "

They call for a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to "net zero by 2050".

"Anything less betrays this and future generations."

The letter says a key measure of environmental success will be ecologically healthy fresh waters which New Zealanders are able to swim in.

It also states the unique species of New Zealand are "the jewels in the crown of our national identity" and calls for stronger emphasis on conservation.

Increasing the Department of Conservation's core budget must be a key component in that strategy, the letter says.

The country is still waiting for the final tally of last General Election with the special votes yet to be fully counted.

New Zealand First's Winston Peters, who holds the balance of power with his party's 7 per cent of the vote, has said he will wait until the final result is announced on October 7 before he begins negotiations with other parties.

Peters has set a deadline of October 12 to make a decision on which party or parties New Zealand First will side with to form a Government.