Ark in the Park

Size: 1843 hectares

Project description

Please note, due to the spread of Kauri dieback disease public access to Ark in the Park has been strictly limited.

Ark in the Park is a conservation project in the Waitākere Ranges which began in 1999. The project is a partnership between Forest and Bird and Auckland Council, supported by the local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki.

The vision of the Ark in the Park Open Sanctuary is to enhance indigenous biodiversity and ecosystem functioning within the project area.

Ark in the Park project area.
Ark in the Park project area immediately surrounding the Waitākere dam and reservoir. Huge kauri crowns emerge in the canopy.
Photo credit: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2019

Ecosystem description

The project area is part of the large tract of native forest in the northern part of the Waitākere Ranges.

It was chosen as a biodiversity focus area because it includes the best remaining example of a mature kauri forest (WF10) ecosystem. It is also located in one of the few areas unmodified by timber milling. 

It has a range of native ecosystem types from mature forest to regenerating scrub. This provides a variety of habitat types and food sources for native species. 

There is a high diversity of plants species and fauna including the at-risk pepeketua (Hochstetter’s frog) and critically threatened pekapeka-tou-roa (long-tailed bat).


One of the aims of reducing animal pest numbers is to create safe habitat to reintroduce previously lost native species to the Waitākere Ranges. Species that have been reintroduced to this area include:

  • pōpokatea (whitehead)
  • toutouwai (North Island robin)
  • hihi (stitchbird)
  • kōkako

Toutouwai and kōkako populations continue to increase in the area.

Ark in the Park project area showing massive kauri trees in the Waitākere Ranges.
Waitākere golf course at the southern end of the Ark in the Park project area is surrounded by massive kauri trees. Unfortunately, kauri dieback is present in a number of these groves.
Photo credit: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2019


Kauri dieback is now widespread throughout the project area. This means that public access is currently restricted to reduce the risk of spreading the soil-borne pathogen further. Ark in the Park activities are strictly managed to prevent the spread of kauri dieback.

Geological features

There are two small Outstanding Natural Features in this area:

  • Waitākere Falls
  • Cascade Falls and conglomerate bluffs.

Both reflect the volcanic history of the Waitākere Ranges.