Exploring the UNESCO Geopark concept as a pathway to a geotourism attraction: A Kaikoura case study, Canterbury, New Zealand

The concept of geoparks was first introduced in the first international conference on geoparks held in China in 2004. Here in New Zealand, Kiwis are accustomed to national parks, land reserves, marine reserves, and urban cities and regional parks. The concept of these protected areas has been long-standing in the country, whereas the UNESCO concept of geoparks is still novel and yet to be established in New Zealand. In this dissertation, I explored the geopark concept for better understanding of its merits and examined the benefits of geotourism attractions as a sustainable economic development strategy to retrieve a declining rural economy. This research is focused on Kaikoura as a case study with geological significance, and emphasizes pre-earthquake existing geological heritages and new existing geological heritages post-earthquake to determine whether the geopark concept is appropriate and what planning framework is available to process this concept proposal should Kaikoura be interested in future.

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