New Tohu Whenua site launched in Te Tai Poutini West Coast

Tohu Whenua marked a significant milestone in December, 2022, with the launch of its first landscape story-based site, Te Kopikopiko o te Waka.

A group of visitors stare in awe at the towering mountain range.
Te Kopikopiko o te Waka. Photo: Claudia Babirat.expand/collapse

Located just 9km from Te Weheka Fox Glacier township, Te Kopikopiko o te Waka boasts panoramic views of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana (the Southern Alps).

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai worked with Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio to redevelop the site previously known as Peak View, to celebrate and showcase the connection of mana whenua with the landscapes of Te Tonga ki te Tai o Poutini (South Westland).

Co-designed with Ngāti Mahaki, it features cultural design elements and is landscaped with a central waka feature to present the whakapapa of mana whenua and the overarching story of the creation of Te Waipounamu (the South Island), and in particular the the four highest peaks which represent Aoraki (also known as Mount Cook) and his brothers Rakiroa (Mount Dampier), Rakirua (Mount Teichelmann) and Rarakiroa (Mount Tasman).

Deputy Chief Executive for Operations and Tohu Whenua Steering Group member Nic Jackson said at the launch that, “that inclusion of Te Kopikopiko o te Waka in Tohu Whenua represents significant growth for the programme. It is the first site added that tells a truly mana whenua story.”

The launch event on 10 December, 2022, was attended by representatives from Te Rūnanga of Makaawhio, DOC, and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as well as the Westland District mayor and councillors, tourist operators, and members of the South Westland community.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is a partner in Tohu Whenua, a visitor programme that connects New Zealanders with our unique heritage. Learn more at or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Caroline Toplis