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Kahurangi National Park to be expanded by area half the size of Auckland

What was already a West Coast wonder is now able to stand among the giants.

The Mokihinui River catchment area will be added to the Kahurangi National Park, the largest addition to an existing national park in New Zealand’s history.

The 64,400 hectares of land is larger than the combined size of the Abel Tasman and Paparoa National Parks.

It ends a long campaign to protect the area by the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird and other environmental groups.

A hydro-electric dam was proposed for the Mokihinui River just over 10 years ago, which would have flooded the gorge and inundated significant habitats.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says that would have impacted on the homes of great spotted kiwi, kākā, long-fin eel, whio and the giant carnivorous land snails.

View from the top of Lyell Range. Source: Ligs-Hoffman

Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague told 1 NEWS that putting the land into the national park "is where it should have been all along".

"Until now it's been stewardship land, which is in the Conservation estate but is vulnerable".

The new park includes part of the popular 85km Old Ghost Road Trail.

Mokihinui River Source: Ligs-Hoffman

Adrian Nicholson is the owner of Westport outdoors store Habitat Sports, which hires bikes and shuttles people to and from the track. He says the trail has benefit to the town, but hopes with the new park status, tourists will stay in Buller longer.

"At the moment, people are riding the track and then they're just pretty much jumping in their cars and leaving the area when we know that there's so many great things to do in this district that could hold them here."

Iwi will work with conservationists to manage the area.

Ngati Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai says they’ll be monitoring tourism and ensuring "numbers don't get out of control and that space is looked after".

The Kahurangi National Park will be officially extended on April 11.

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The park is at the top of the South Island and is home to threatened species. Source: 1 NEWS