The Te Wahipounamu nature reserve is located in the west and southwest of the South Island of New Zealand and consists of the four national parks Westland, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook and Fjordland.
With its 26,000 km², the World Heritage is one of the largest protected areas in the world. It reaches heights of 3754 m (Mount Cook) and is located in a highly seismically active region. It is home to diverse flora and fauna, such as the Australian fur seal, takahe and numerous species of birds. Visit sourcemakeup.com for scenic New Zealand.
Te Wahipounamu Nature Reserve: Facts
|Official title:||Te Wahipounamu nature reserve with Westland / Mount Cook and Fiordland national parks|
|Natural monument:||Discovered by Abel Janzoon Tasman in 1642; consisting of the Fjordland National Park established in 1904, the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks established in 1953 and 1960 with 28 of the 29 over 3000 m high mountains in New Zealand, the Mount Aspiring National Park established in 1964 and other nature reserves, total area 26,000 km²; Heights up to 3764 m (Mount Cook), located at the interface of the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates and therefore one of the most seismically active regions in the world|
|Continent:||Australia / Oceania|
|Location:||Southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, between Mount Cook, Milford Sound, Te Anau and Waitutu|
|Meaning:||Home of the only parrot living in alpine regions, the kea, and the critically endangered Takahe|
|Flora and fauna:||Temperate rainforests, grasslands and wetlands as well as alpine mats with tussock, beech, rimu, miro and hall’s totara; largest colony of Australian fur seals in New Zealand; Bird species such as the thick-billed penguin with up to 2000 breeding pairs, the great spotted kiwi and a subspecies of the striped kiwi, as well as around 150 endangered takahe, parrot species such as kaka and kea, rock and dwarf panties, woodcock, eyebrow duck, Australian shoveler and New Zealand blue duck|
About little tormentors or The revenge of the Maori
Seven-mile boots would be necessary if one wanted to experience the “land of water” completely: from the highest ice-covered peaks of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, which are reflected in all their majestic size in Lake Matheson when there is no wind, to the evergreen rainforests and the fjords. In view of the extent of the landscape, the inaccessibility to some extent and the fascinating diversity of geological formations, flora and fauna, however, only the adventure succeeds in smaller “sections”: here and there a glimpse of gnarled stone slices and crimson blooming rata, daring the expiring one Step onto the glacier tongue of Fox Glacier, take the excursion boat across Milford Sound and marvel at the water that constantly pours from the heights around Miter Peak, a “rock dome”.
In addition to the snowfields and glacial formations, rainforests extend, whose dense population of stone beef species is favored by one of the highest annual rainfall in the world. Slender kahikatea, one of New Zealand’s largest tree species, grow in the swamp forests, and Rimu with their drooping coniferous dress stand on the terraces of Lake Matheson and on the moraines of the South Okarito Forest.
Formed by the Ice Age, fjords, called “sounds” here, have made their way into the interior of the country. Rivers, swollen into large rivers after the rain, run through valleys like the Greenstone Valley, in which jade – in the Maori language »pounamu« – was once found. Evidence of the seething interior of the earth is given by volcanic rocks such as basalt or andesite, but also hot springs such as those of Welcome Flat or the striking peaks of the Darran Mountains above the Hollyford Valley. The active volcanoes from the Permian Age may have disappeared, but the earth still shakes now and then.
The rain, which hits the country on up to 200 days a year, hardly prevents anyone from spending a few eventful days in the “mountains of water”. The hiking trails to Milford Sound and the Routeburn Track would be overcrowded had it not been for a reservation system that regulates visits to this network of trails, which is well known beyond New Zealand.
But not only the water from above, but also the »tormentor« Te Namu and his tiny helpers belong to Fiordland. The first seal hunters on the coasts of Fjordland made unpleasant acquaintance with them. The English navigator Captain J. Cook , who sailed around the southwest coast of New Zealand and the Dusky Sound there with his ship »Endeavor« in 1770, remarked about them in his notes: »(…) they are in abundance, annoying fellows, everything exceed what I have experienced so far. When they bite, they cause swelling and an unbearable itchiness (…). You then scratch yourself until an ulcer forms like a smallpox disease. ”
According to a Maori legend, “the mother of all mosquitoes”, Te Namu, goes back to Hinu-nui-te-po, the goddess of death. The goddess was so enthusiastic about the work of the Fiordland’s master carver, Tu-te-Rakiwhanoa, that she did not want to share their sight with anyone. She created Te Namu to keep the curious away from Fiordland with countless tiny black mosquitos.
To this day, the descendants of Te Namu are looking for their prey: As little “vampires” they suck the blood of their unwilling victims up to three thousand times an hour. So far it is not known who they attack when no hiker is available; then presumably they “hunt” lizards, birds and small mammals. In particular, before and during egg-laying, the females need sheer quantities of the “red juice of life” in relation to their tiny bodies. Their eggs are finally laid on rocks in flowing streams and smaller rivers. It takes about seven weeks for the eggs to develop through a larval stage into a new brood of small bloodsuckers, and then new pests have to be greeted.