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South Westland is so grand, that UNESCO declared it as important as the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Mt Everest and other global natural treasures.
This means that the area, deemed to be holding natural and cultural features of world significance, is now protected for perpetuity.
The South Westland World Heritage Area, known by Maori as Te Wâhipounamu [the place of greenstone], spans a massive 2.6 million hectares and encompasses Aoraki/Mount Cook, Westland, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks.
Famous for its dramatic coastline, the sweeping curves of beaches, rugged cliff tops and spectacular glaciers - visitors can travel through an unspoiled natural environment that darts from the sea, over ancient sand dunes to lakes and forests, with the dramatic backdrop of a mountain chain dividing east from west.
This is a part of the country so wild and relatively undisturbed, that the town of Haast was not linked by road to the rest of the West Coast until 1965.
Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) may be seen at Monro Beach during the spring. Forest birds include the threatened kaka, a rare species of kiwi (Haast tokoeka) and our native falcon (karearea) call this place home.