New Zealand Geopreservation Inventory

MAPS and SITE DATA available free at:

Best practice guide for recognising and assessing Outstanding Natural Features as defined in the RMA:

Preserving the Earth's Heritage

* Just as human life is recognised as being unique, the time has come to recognise the uniqueness of the earth.

* The earth is 4,500 million years old and the cradle of life and its evolution.

* Our history and the history of the earth are closely linked. Its origins are our origins, its history is our history and its future will be our future.

* Just as an old tree keeps all the records of its growth and life, so too the earth retains memories of its past ... a record inscribed both in its depths and on the surface, in the rocks and in the landscapes, a record that can be read and translated.

* We have always been aware of the need to preserve our memories - our cultural heritage. Now the time has come to ensure we protect our natural heritage. The past of the earth is no less important than that of human beings.

* Now is the time for us to learn to protect, and by doing so, to learn about the past of the earth and to read the book written in the rocks and landforms before our advent - that is our earth science heritage.

Objectives for Earth Science Conservation in New Zealand

The objective for earth science conservation in New Zealand is:

"To ensure the survival of the best representative examples of the broad diversity of New Zealand's geologic features, landforms, soil sites and active physical processes, so that we can understand the unique geological history of New Zealand, development of its landforms and evolution of its biota."

Why Bother ?

There are many reasons why New Zealand's landforms and geological features should be valued, cared for and, in some cases, given legal protection.

Aesthetic values

The wide variety of landforms and geological features found in New Zealand gives us a rich and varied natural environment. Natural landforms give people a sense of place, a means of orienting themselves within the natural world. Spectacular and inspiring natural features like mountain ranges, fiords, volcanoes, and rocky coastlines have intangible but nonetheless important values. Many smaller features, too, because they are unusual or scenically attractive, provide a more stimulating, interesting environment.

Recreational values

Our earth science heritage should also be valued for the outdoor recreational opportunities it provides. We need to ensure that we preserve the opportunity to ski, bungee jump, picnic, walk, canoe, raft or simply relax in the wide variety of stimulating natural landform settings we value so much in New Zealand.

Tourism values

Tourism is New Zealand's largest and fastest-growing industry. It is often claimed that it is our clean green image that attracts over a million overseas tourists to our shores each year. A survey of our major tourist attractions however shows that this is not true. In reality the major draw card is our rich heritage of spectacular and diverse landforms - like Rotorua's geothermal features, Milford Sound's glacier-carved landforms, Queenstown's mountain and lake setting, Waitomo Caves, Huka Falls, the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park and the Bay of Islands formed by the drowning of ice age river valleys.

New Zealand tourism is built on the natural beauty of our landforms. We should value this heritage and ensure that our country remains one of the most stimulating and interesting parts of the world to visit or live in.

Education values

As more and more people live in towns and cities, outdoor education is becoming increasingly important. Many people enjoy studying the natural world, either individually or with organizations or clubs. Study of the earth's history, resources and physical processes plays an important part in our formal education system, too, particularly in science and geography. In our schools, earth science is now given as much attention as biology, chemistry or physics.

A good understanding of earth science requires classes to go out and learn about the landforms, rocks and soils in their area. Thus a wide range of accessible and easily interpreted examples of these features must be set aside for educational use.

Research values

Landform features, geological exposures and soil sites are the essential ingredients of almost all earth science research. This research is needed to understand the processes that have formed the world, continue to modify it, and sometimes threaten human lives and property. It also enables us to find resources essential for maintaining our current standard of living, such as petroleum, natural gas, silica sand, road aggregate, cement, soils, iron, aluminium, and coal. Important reference sites need protection for future research needs.