This indicator provides a measure of the level and type of recreation and tourism use in forests. The number and geographic distribution of visits and the facilities available reflect the extent to which people participate in forest-based leisure activities and the importance of forests for recreation and tourism.
Nature-based tourism ranges from high impact adventure activities such as jet boating, skydiving and mountain climbing to more relaxing activities such as bush walking, wildlife and scenic tours and boat cruises.
New Zealand’s focus on wilderness and adventure experiences brings with it a higher level of risk than other forms of tourism. In recognition of this, resources are devoted to the provision of search and rescue, and emergency care services.
When considering the recreation and tourism opportunities associated with New Zealand’s forests, it is important not to overlook the role of New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of commercial planted forests. The recreational facilities in these forests are not normally as developed as those in the conservation estate, but they can provide valuable opportunities for bush walks, fishing and hunting. As discussed in Indicator 6.4.a, a number of the long-established commercial forests provide nationally important facilities, such as mountain biking and orienteering tracks.
In more recent decades, the private sector has taken a larger role in providing recreational facilities and in developing new forms of adventure activity.