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Walking access easements will secure epic Coronet Loop
Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive Mark Williams describes the newly opened “epic” Coronet Loop as five years in the making. But for the Walking Access Commission, it’s been much longer.
But definitely worth it, says Commission chief executive Ric Cullinane.
The loop is part of a network of Mahu Whenua covenant tracks in Wakatipu that the Commission has been helping create legal access on for over a decade.
The tracks will give walkers and mountain bikers enhanced access to the spectacular Crown Range and Harris Mountains.
When two large Crown Pastoral Leases were sold in 2011, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) required the new owner, Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, to provide public access over the land. He and his land manager Russell Hamilton were immensely supportive of creating the Mahu Whenua trail network. And the local community were also keen to help.
Despite all that support, ‘good things take time’, as the cheese advert says. There was a lot of negotiation to enable enduring public access, says Cullinane.
The Commission spent years talking with people and groups to find the best legal structure to legalise and manage the tracks. Queen Elizabeth II National Trust has taken on the role of controlling authority. The Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Department of Conservation, and the Queenstown Trails Trust will all manage the tracks. The tracks will be secured with registered walkway easements under the Walking Access Act.
“The enthusiasm and collaboration from all these organisations — Soho Property Limited, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and Queenstown Trails Trust — has created something special. The Coronet Loop is a spectacular result,” says Cullinane.
“Mountain bikers and walkers are not thinking about the type of easement underneath them when they adventure over the ranges,” says Cullinane. “But these technical issues are the foundations that let people get out and explore the outdoors.”