Mahu Whenua trail network delights tourists and locals

Outcome: Managed access adds value to communities

After six years, a network of 18 trails on Coronet Peak and Glencoe Stations is nearly finished. The tracks will give walkers and mountain bikers enhanced access to the spectacular Crown Range and Harris Mountains. 

Walking Access Commission regional field adviser Ange van der Laan says all the tracks are up and running, except for the new Coronet Loop track. Stage 1 of building that track along the Coronet face has just finished and work will start in the spring on the rest. 

‘It’s a bit of high country right on our doorstep – available to all New Zealanders and all visitors," says van der Laan.

When the two stations were sold in 2011 the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) required the new leaseholder to provide public trails on the land. The owner, Robert Lange, and his land manager Russell Hamilton, supported the trail network, as did the Arrowtown community. In fact, Lange and Hamilton have created additional tracks to those the OIO recommended.

But even when everyone wanted the same thing there was a lot of negotiation to make it happen.  

The Commission spent several 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 play a part in managing the tracks.

Legal questions about type of easement can seem trivial. But those legal discussions are crucial to making sure the trail endures into the future. The tracks will be secured with registered walkway easements under the Act.
Now that it is nearly done van der Laan says people are already flocking to the trail network. 

"It’s an amazing asset to the country, and especially us very happy locals in Arrowtown."