In this occasional series, David Barnes attempts to unravel and demystify the different types of conservation land and other public land that is important to outdoor recreationalists.  

In an enlightened move, planners in Auckland in the 1950s recognised that urban sprawl was increasing and that having large green spaces on the city fringes was desirable. Notwithstanding the challenges due to Kauri Dieback, Regional parks remain a hugely important recreational asset for residents of the Auckland and Wellington areas. In fact, in Auckland, regional parks dwarf public conservation land. A couple of the better known Auckland ones, Waitakere and Hunua, owe their existence, at least partly, to the fact that they have been important municipal water catchment areas for many decades. Although perhaps better known for short walks, overnight opportunities, such as the Hillary trail, do exist. All up, there are 20 regional parks in Auckland.

Wellington didn’t get regional parks until the 1980s. The first of what is now five was Belmont, which ranges from bush gullies to grazed open tops and stretches from the Hutt Valley to Porirua. Another Wellington park, Kaitoke, encompasses the southern-most portion of the Tararua Range.  There are also regional parks near Tauranga and Christchurch.

The primary legislation governing Regional Parks is the Local Government Act 2002 and the Reserves Act 1977.

Next time: unformed legal roads

David Barnes is a long serving member of the FMC executive. He is FMC’s nominee to the NZ Conservation Authority, the public representative board which provides advice to DOC and the Minister of Conservation.