M.INC.RECN.626: Natural Resource Recreation & Tourism

Learning outcome

Natural and resource-based recreation refers to recreation that occurs in environments that are, to a large extent, unmodified by humans. This includes recreation and tourism in physical settings (such as mountains, rivers, and lakes and along coastlines) where reliance on built environments is minimised. Natural resource recreationists and tourists pursue activities in a range of management settings too, including national parks and reserves, and regional or peri-urban park areas.

RECN 626 aims to facilitate advanced study of the theoretical, philosophical and applied issues relating to recreation and tourism in nature-based settings. The course enables students to explore the sociological, geographical, and psychological dimensions of natural resource recreation participation and management, including issues of equity in opportunity provision, experiential aspects of participation, the influence of values, relationships with land and place, balancing preservation and use, commercial uses of protected natural areas, and understanding visitor behaviour.

Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism is an extension of courses offered at the undergraduate level (especially RECN 341 Recreation and Tourism in Protected Areas, RECN 215 Recreation, Sport and Adventure in Outdoor Environments, and RECN 209 Nature and Heritage Interpretation), and helps prepare students for professional careers within recreation and tourism management, policy and planning.


  • Course: Lecture


  • Introduction to natural resource recreation and tourism: the estate and the dilemma
  • The history and development of New Zealand's Protected Areas
  • The natural resource recreationists: sociological and social demographic dimensions
  • The natural resource recreationists: experiential dimensions
  • Impacts of natural resource recreation (bio-physical and social)
  • Management of natural heritage: assumptions, values and practice
  • Managing visitor safety: moral and legal responsibilities for natural resource recreation and tourism
  • Risk and responsibility in natural resource recreation and tourism
  • Understanding visitor behaviour in natural resource settings: communication, persuasion and modification.


  • Exam: Short Essay, Journal Article

Prerequisite for examination: Through their study of this subject, students should develop the ability to:

  • situate New Zealand’s protected areas system within an historical context, and understand its significance for conservation, recreation and tourism
  • provide a critical overview of the characteristics of natural resource recreationists, the expectations of nature¿based tourists, and their impacts on the resource estate;
  • analyse natural resource recreation in terms of ethnicity, culture, history, personal values, and experiential dimensions of recreation;
  • understand and appraise strategies for addressing conflict arising from management of natural resource recreation and tourism;
  • identify and critically discuss the range of current visitor management issues affecting participation in and management of natural resource recreation and tourism;
  • examine the unique challenges of effective communication with visitors to natural resource settings, including knowledge of the theory and strategies associated with modifying visitor behaviour; and
  • critically appraise management practice, theoretical frameworks, and research findings within the context of natural resource recreation and tourism.

Further details

  • Admission requirements: None
  • Recommended previous knowledge: None
  • Language: English
  • Person responsible for module: Stephen Espiner
  • Course frequency: Each winter semester
  • Duration: One semester
  • Number of repeat examinations permitted: Twice
  • Recommended Semester: First to third semester
  • Maximum number of students: 10