In the request for feedback on the review of the Regional Parks Management Plan (March 2022), WRPS emphasised the importance of prioritising the protection of the wilderness experience that the Waitakere Ranges provides. We believe this means a continuation of the exclusion of currently prohibited activities, such as mountain biking, horse riding, and motorised sports, as well as a complete rejection of the suggested 1b classification of the parkland.
The rejection of the 1b classification supports the continuance of the Waitakere Ranges being classified in a way that offers the highest level of protection.
For it to remain as Category 1a recognises its heritage, ecological, wilderness and recreational values, and its national significance under the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act, passed into law by Parliament in 2008.
WRPS has a concern around how to manage the influx of visitors in coming years sustainably, and that tourists are being funnelled through particular areas. The provision of some form of public transport service would negate the need to develop car parks, as well as play a role in directing visitors more easily to sites better able to cope with large numbers and therefore protecting more sensitive locations.
The review of the RPMP should revisit the direction of works to protect kauri in the park. The track upgrading should be embedded in a policy context that seeks to protect the values of the park, the natural features within it and the visitor experience. Any proposals to close tracks permanently should be reviewed as part of this RPMP review. The heritage and history of individual tracks should be part of such a review. As the largest regional park (17,000 ha), the oldest regional park, the foundational park of the regional parks’ network, and as it is close to the most populated part of the Auckland region, the Waitākere Ranges
parkland deserves special attention and faces particular challenges from kauri dieback and over-use. The Waitākere Ranges being a place of natural heritage should remain as a core value in the RPMP. It is an invaluable place of biodiversity and must be protected and maintained.