During the last Ice Age massive glaciers gouged out troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River. Today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa, which give the Park its name. They are the largest lakes in the area.

Craggy mountains surround the lakes. The vegetation is predominantly beech, with the red and silver species growing in lower, warmer sites and mountain beech at higher altitudes. The bush line, where forest gives way to alpine plants is a remarkable feature of the park; the change is abrupt and uniform as if drawn with a ruler. In summer the alpine fell fields teem with flowers, though typically they tend to be pale colours, white, light blue and sometimes yellow.

The forests are full of birds like tomtits, robins and the tiny rifleman, New Zealand's smallest bird. South Island kaka are also present. A highlight in the park is the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, which aims to create a pest-free refuge in the honeydew beech forests beside Lake Rotoiti paving the way for the recovery and re-introduction of native species in the area. It also provides an ideal opportunity for the public to see conservation work at first hand, and for people to enjoy and appreciate New Zealand's unique natural attractions. While similar restoration efforts have been made for years on New Zealand's offshore islands, the 5000 ha Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project is part of a national programme aimed at extending these successes onto the mainland through the creation of island-like refuges, known as 'mainland islands'.

Source: Department of Conservation - Crown Copyright

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