New Zealand is home to some beautiful national parks, from Fiordland National Park in the south to Tongariro National Park on the North Island. But are dogs allowed to join you in visiting these spectacular national parks?
How Many National Parks are in New Zealand?
New Zealand is home to 13 national parks. From north to south, they include:
- Tongariro National Park
- Whanganui National Park
- Egmont National Park
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Kahurangi National Park
- Nelson Lakes National Park
- Paparoa National Park
- Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Westland Tai Poutini National Park
- Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
- Mount Aspiring National Park
- Fiordland National Park
- Rakiura National Park
Are Dogs Allowed in National Parks in NZ?
Both dogs and cats are strictly not allowed in the any of the 13 national parks across New Zealand. This prohibition also extends to the country’s nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
The one exception is that you can drive through national parks on public roads with your pet in your vehicle. However, you cannot stop. The prohibition against pets extends to having pets in your vehicle when parking in national parks.
A similar prohibition applies to dogs in boats passing through national parks. You cannot take your dog ashore in conservation areas where dogs are prohibited. Instead, ensure that you don’t need to stop with your dog.
I recently saw a on Facebook of someone next to a sign stating this, along with a possible fine of up to $100,000! Taking a dog into a national park in New Zealand is classified as an offence under the National Parks Act. Even higher penalties can apply for dogs that kill wildlife, under the Dog Control Act.
Why Are Dogs Prohibited from National Parks?
There are a number of reasons that domestic dogs and cats are prohibited from national parks in New Zealand.
The biggest reason is due to the unique wildlife in New Zealand, including many vulnerable bird species such as kiwis. Dogs may injure or even kill wildlife. Even just the smell or sound of dogs may cause distress to wildlife, and cause them to leave their homes.
Other reasons include potential harm to dogs from traps and poisons used in conservation areas to control introduced species, the potential transmission of diseases to wildlife from dogs, and an increased risk of spreading kauri disease.
Are There Any Exceptions?
In 2018, there was a proposal to allow dogs inside Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the South Island of New Zealand, to provide access to residents of Franz Josef to walk their dogs. However, this proposal was quickly shot down and did not go ahead. There are no dog-friendly national parks in NZ.
However, pets are allowed inside a number of other areas in New Zealand that are looked after by the Department of Conservation.
To find areas where dogs are permitted, tick the filter “Dogs allowed” when searching for locations on the DoC website. Here are shortcuts to list tracks with dogs access, campsites with dogs access and hunting areas with dogs access. There is also an overall guide to Fiordland dog access.
Some places requires dogs to have a permit, that needs to be applied for in advance. In all cases dogs need to stay under your control and often on a leash, not causing a nuisance or injuring protected wildlife. Dogs are also not allowed to enter inside any huts, lodges, cottages or cabins.
Dog-Friendly Tracks in New Zealand
There are an extensive list of tracks in New Zealand looked after by the Department of Conservation where dogs are allowed, outside of national parks. Dogs are permitted on 317 walking and tramping tracks the last time I checked!
An example of a popular scenic spot where dogs are allowed, including on the walking tracks, in Huka Falls, north of Lake Taupo. Dogs are allowed on the Rotary Ride and Waikato River Track that provide access to the falls. Dogs just need to be kept on a leash.
Take advantage of the many dog-friendly spots in New Zealand that you can legally take your dog, rather than take your dog into national parks.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.