Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990 and covering 26,000 km², the site incorporates four national parks: Aoraki/Mt Cook, Fiordland, Mt Aspiring and Westland. It is thought to contain some of the best modern representations of the original flora and fauna present in Gondwana, one of the reasons for listing as a World Heritage site.
Te Wahipounamu stretches 450 kilometres along the western coastline of the South Island of New Zealand. The elevation of this land area ranges from sea level to 3,724 metres at Aoraki/Mt. Cook. In some places it extends inland as far as 90 kilometres. Within Te Wahipounamu there is a multitude of natural features including snow-capped peaks, sapphire lakes, waterfalls, fjords, and valleys. It is also home to hundreds of the world’s most active glaciers, but the main two are Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. It is the largest and least modified area of New Zealand’s natural ecosystem. And as such, the flora and fauna of the area is the world’s best modern representation of the ancient biota of Gondwanaland.
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