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The Paparoa National Park was created in 1987, to protect a unique limestone karst environment from mining and forestry. In the interests of science, the boundaries of the park were carefully established to encompass a complete range of landscapes and ecosystems - from the granite and gneiss summits of the Paparoa Range down to the layered rock formations of Punakaiki.
By following the historic Inland Pack Track, formed originally by gold miners, visitors can discover some of the park's most special places. Camping under a natural rock shelter - the Ballroom Overhang - is an unforgettable experience.
The park is the overlapping point between subtropical and cool climate trees. Nikau palms, northern rata and cabbage trees give the lowland rainforest a lush, Pacific feeling. Further up, silver beech forest merges with sub alpine shrubs. Higher still, daisies and gentians provide colour among the alpine tussocks. Some plants are unique to the area, suggesting that it was a botanic refuge during the ice ages.
Birdlife is prolific in the Paparoa National Park. The endemic Westland Black Petrel breeds only on the Punakaiki coast, and the Great Spotted Kiwi combs the forest by night.