The lowland forests of South Westland have long been recognised as one of the last untouched areas of conifer–broadleaf forest. From the early 20th century most of the forested areas became state forest, and were protected as a future source of timber.
In 1990, 2.6 million hectares were designated as a world heritage area. It includes four national parks (Westland Tai Poutini, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland), as well as the land beside and in between them.
- source: Te Ara