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Why 80% of New Zealand Remains Untouched

A Land of Vast Solitude

By Kabir KhanPublished 27 days ago 3 min read
Why 80% of New Zealand Remains Untouched
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

New Zealand, with its breathtaking landscapes and pristine beauty, is often associated with lush green hills, snow-capped peaks, and crystal-clear lakes. Yet, despite its allure, a significant portion of this island nation remains uninhabited. Approximately 80% of New Zealand's landmass lies untouched by human settlement. What factors contribute to this remarkable emptiness?

1. Geographic Isolation

New Zealand's isolation is legendary. Situated in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, it lies more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) southeast of Australia. This remoteness has shaped its history and ecology. The Maori people were the first to arrive, navigating vast distances in canoes around 800 years ago. European settlers followed much later, encountering a land teeming with unique flora and fauna.

The rugged terrain, jagged coastlines, and treacherous seas discouraged widespread colonization. Even today, reaching certain areas requires intrepid journeys by boat, helicopter, or on foot. As a result, vast stretches of New Zealand's landscape remain untouched by human hands.

2. Challenging Topography

New Zealand's topography is a study in contrasts. The North Island boasts active volcanoes, geothermal wonders, and rolling hills. The South Island, on the other hand, features the Southern Alps—a spine of majestic peaks that stretch from north to south. These mountains, including Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, create formidable barriers.

Between these peaks lie deep fjords, glaciers, and dense rainforests. The Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, exemplifies this untamed beauty. Its fiords—Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound—are carved by ancient glaciers and surrounded by sheer cliffs. These natural obstacles have limited human settlement, leaving vast tracts of wilderness intact.

3. Conservation Efforts

New Zealand takes conservation seriously. The country is home to unique species found nowhere else on Earth, such as the flightless kiwi bird, the tuatara reptile, and the ancient kauri tree. To protect these treasures, New Zealand has established numerous national parks, reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) actively manages these areas, ensuring that native ecosystems thrive. Predator eradication programs target invasive species like rats, stoats, and possums. By preserving habitats and reintroducing endangered species, New Zealand maintains its commitment to ecological balance.

4. Cultural Respect

The Maori concept of "kaitiakitanga" emphasizes guardianship and stewardship of the land. Maori culture reveres the natural world, recognizing its intrinsic value beyond mere resources. This reverence extends to remote regions, where Maori ancestral connections remain strong. Some areas are tapu (sacred), and their untouched status is a testament to cultural respect.

5. Rugged Terrain

The country's rugged terrain—comprising mountains, fjords, and dense forests—has discouraged large-scale development. Many areas are simply too challenging to build upon or cultivate. As a result, vast stretches of land remain wild and untamed.

6. Agricultural Focus

While New Zealand is known for its agriculture, much of it is concentrated on specific regions. The fertile plains of the North Island and parts of the South Island support farming, leaving the more challenging landscapes largely untouched.

7. Tourism Concentration

Tourism primarily centers around accessible regions, such as Queenstown, Rotorua, and Auckland. These areas offer stunning vistas, adventure activities, and cultural experiences. Meanwhile, the remote wilderness remains less frequented, preserving its pristine state.

8. Biodiversity Hotspots

New Zealand boasts unique biodiversity, including flightless birds like the kiwi and the world's smallest dolphin—the Hector's dolphin. Protecting these endemic species requires safeguarding their natural habitats, which contributes to the untouched wilderness.


New Zealand's untouched wilderness is a testament to its unique blend of geography, history, and cultural values. As travelers explore its well-trodden trails and hidden corners, they encounter a land that whispers stories of resilience, isolation, and wonder. Perhaps it is in these untouched spaces that New Zealand's true spirit resides—a spirit that invites us to tread lightly and appreciate the beauty of emptiness.

Whether you're an adventurer seeking solitude or a nature enthusiast yearning for unspoiled vistas, New Zealand's untouched landscapes beckon. Start writing...


About the Creator

Kabir Khan

I am a student, writing is my passion

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    Kabir KhanWritten by Kabir Khan

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