è Adverse effects of a variety of activities on the integrity of the existing landscape and character of Westland.
The Westland landscape is comprised of a distinctive mix of natural features, including the mountains and peaks of the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana, glaciers, lakes and rivers, extensive areas of relatively unmodified indigenous vegetation, the coastline, and a unique flora and fauna. The built environment and pastoral farmland are also significant in some areas. Westland is the unbroken ecological sequences that exist between the mountains and the coast over a distance of generally less than 50 km. The integrity of this landscape, particularly in the south of the District, is significant.
The northern part of the District is more heavily populated relative to south Westland and contains comparatively larger tracts of private land used for traditional rural activities, for example in the Kokatahi, Whataroa and Harihari areas. The area south of Whataroa is more strongly influenced by the natural environment with relatively small and isolated pockets of productive land and associated service and tourist settlements. Within this context, development in south Westland is likely to have a greater impact on the overall integrity of the landscape than in the north of the District. However, even in the most developed areas, there is a distinctive "wild" character to the landscape because of its mix of natural, historic and economic values.
The Westland landscape is unique to New Zealand and provides an essential platform for the growing tourism industry. Individual elements of this landscape, such as the glaciers, lakes and wildlife also attract significant visitor numbers. Tourism has become an integral part of the viability of a number of small communities in the District. The landscape quality, individual stands of trees and natural features also contribute to the amenities and environmental quality enjoyed by local residents.
While protection of the integrity of the landscape is important, it must be recognised that the landscape often changes dramatically through natural processes and in acceptable manner by development. For example highway rest areas, or sympathetically designed buildings may be acceptable changes to the landscape. The Westland landscape is generally resilient to, and able to absorb change more readily than many other New Zealand landscapes, because of its generally forested character, the high rainfall climate and fast re-growth rates. In addition, the vast majority of lands (some 86%) are in the conservation estate, managed under a conservation mandate, including the high skyline which dominates vistas from most locations within the District, both north and south.
The following are examples of outstanding natural landscapes in the district; land above 300 m, i.e. podocarp forest and mountains, Lake Ianthe/Matahi, Lake Mapourika, Lake Wahapo, Lake Moeraki, Lake Paringa, Saltwater Lagoon, Okarito Lagoon, Coastline.
3.10.1 To ensure development does not impinge on the integrity of landscapes in Westland.
3.10.2 To maintain and protect the existing scenic and open and diverse character of Westland District, dominated by natural dynamic processes.
3.10.3 To ensure that land uses, buildings and development have regard to the natural landscapes in which they are located or seek to be located.
è Protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes is listed as a matter of national importance (Section 6(b) of the Act).
è Recognises that the overall integrity of landscape is important (and advocated by the Act) not just views from selected vantage points, such as the State Highway.
è Recognises that many individual elements of Westland's landscape have national and international significance and should be managed accordingly.