National parks grow by 1250ha

Mount Aspiring National Park and two other South Island national parks have had 1250ha added to them.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced yesterday Mount Aspiring National Park was being expanded by 657ha, with the addition of 68ha at the confluence of the Landsborough and Haast Rivers, 527ha of river flats at the Clarke, Landsborough and Haast Rivers and 62ha at Dancing Creek.

Dr Smith said the Dancing Creek area next to the Haast Highway was particularly important from a scenic and tourism perspective.

Paparoa National Park had 214ha added just south of Inangahua Junction, on the highway between Reefton and Murchison.

Westland Tai Poutini National Park had 378ha added just south of the Waiho River, close to Waiho Beach.

''These rich forests and river flats are valuable additions to these three national parks,'' Dr Smith said.

''The areas were previously privately owned but were strategically acquired by the Government's Nature Heritage Fund specifically because of their high conservation values and the value they added to the national parks.''

The additions were ''strongly supported'' by the West Coast and Otago Conservation Boards, the New Zealand Conservation Authority and both local iwi, Te Runanga o Ngai Waewae and Te Runanga o Makaawhio.

The additions were made by order in council under Section 7 of the National Parks Act 1980 and take effect on September 25.