Parts of Kahurangi were occupied by Maori from the 14th Century and the coast was much travelled by those seeking pounamu (greenstone). In 1846 Charles Heaphy, a draughtsman with the New Zealand Company, and Thomas Brunner were the first Europeans to traverse across the park to the coast. Later well worn packtracks were built by those wanting easy access to the country's first goldfields.

Kahurangi is a geologically complex area. Much of its rock is sedimentary, laid down in an ancient sea, then faulted, uplifted and scoured, in places, by glaciers. Parts of the region are limestone or marble, these areas are characterised by an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops. New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park.

The vegetation cover changes markedly from one side of the park to the other and from the coast to the tops of mountains. In the east, beech forest is dominant while to the west you will see podocarp forest with a rich understory of ferns, vines and shrubs. On the coast stands of nikau palms give the forest an almost tropical look. 80% of New Zealand's alpine species can be found in the high reaches of the park.

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Department of Conservation

 

SHUTTLE to and from roadends - Nelson Lakes Shuttles