Why are landscapes and features important?

Landscapes and features are important because they contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life. They provide the broader context within which we live our lives. Living within aesthetically pleasing and culturally meaningful landscapes enhances our sense of wellbeing. Visiting largely undeveloped landscapes enables people to re-connect with nature, to refresh their minds and bodies and to gain a greater appreciation of New Zealand's natural heritage. Accessible natural landscapes within close proximity of urban areas, such as the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland and Banks Peninsula in Christchurch, play an important role in increasing the quality of life within those cities. Iconic features such as the volcanic cones in Auckland also contribute to the visual identities of New Zealand's cities and settled areas.  For tangata whenua, the ongoing ability to associate with valued cultural landscapes and to access natural resources within these landscapes for cultural harvest are important elements of cultural well-being.

Importance of Landscapes




Attracting Investment
Attracting Residents
Productive Capacity

Quality of Life
Spiritual Renewal
Sense of Place and Identity 
Cultural Values
Historical Linkages

Indigenous Habitats

Landscapes play an important economic role in directly supporting the tourism and film industries and adding value to exports by enhancing New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ image. High quality landscapes can strengthen local economies by attracting residents and investment to an area, as well as tourists. Rural landscapes support a range of primary production activities such as farming, forestry and horticulture.

People value different landscapes for different reasons. Some landscapes are appreciated for their high aesthetic natural values. These include such internationally renowned landscapes such as Milford Sounds, Lake Wakatipu, the Southern Alps and the Central Volcanic Plateau, as well as areas of wild and relatively undeveloped coastline, mountains, high country, lakes and rivers. Other landscapes are appreciated for their unique or special character which has arisen from the interaction of natural and human influences over time. Such landscapes can become an integral part of the identity of local communities. They provide a strong sense of belonging to ‘our place’ for residents and regular visitors alike.

Māori have a unique relationship to land and landscape through whakapapa (geneology), tipuna (ancestors) and marae. Landforms, like mountains and coastal spits, trigger tribal stories and memories of ancestral feats, harvest areas and renowned tipuna. Some are associated with past battle sites and urupa. Even where there has been marked change in the landscape through the influence of the built environment, remnant landscapes can trigger memories of what was once the papakainga (housing areas on ancestral land). Heritage landscapes, such as Kerikeri Basin in the Bay of Islands, Akaroa Harbour on the Banks Peninsula, Young Nicks Head (Te Kuri) in Poverty Bay, Ngunguru Spit in Northland, and Bannockburn in Central Otago, are valued because of their historical significance. They provide people with direct physical links to the past.

Last updated at 3:10PM on January 8, 2018