Fascinating Flora & Wildlife
Rising from the wild sea through sub-tropical rainforest to towering mountains, Westland National Park is unique in its representation of varied species of flora and fauna.
Near the coast, flax grows in abundance. As the land rises and the climate changes, the dense rainforest gives way to a tangle of sub-alpine scrub. Beyond are the tussock-lands and alpine herb fields. Above, only lichens can survive the brutal conditions.
The dense 'living green' podocarp forest is splashed with colour. The rata, the glory of Westland, provides a brilliant display of red flowers in January and February, while the creamy kamahi flowers, native fuschia and coprosmas with their orange, red, blue or white berries and the yellow and white clematis all add to the rich tapestry.
Ferns are everywhere - on the limbs and trunks of trees and on the damp forest floor with mosses, and minute fragile orchids.
The tranquil lagoons, pristine forests and high alpine tops are the habitat of virtually every mainland bird in New Zealand, including the only known nesting place of the Kotuku (white heron). Bellbirds, tuis, New Zealand wood pigeon, fantails, bush robins and the comical kea are a delight for the birdwatcher. Kiwis forage in the forest at night but are rarely heard or seen.
Seals now tumble carefree in the surf, after being almost exterminated by hunters last century. Tahr, red deer and chamois were liberated in the early 1900s to provide hunting for settlers. Today, hunting is permitted for the control of chamois and tahr, providing excellent sport for enthusiasts.