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Largest ever land covenant good for access too
By John Forbes, NZWAC Board Chairman
The proposal by Switzerland-based music producer Mutt Lange to create New Zealand's largest ever land covenant has been making headlines this week.
The proposal would see the historic, environmental and cultural values of 53,000 hectares of iconic high-country land on Glencoe, Coronet Peak, Motatapu and Mount Soho stations in the lower South Island protected by a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant. It would also result in a significant number of new publicly accessible trails on two of the stations â€“ Glencoe and Coronet Peak â€“ all of which would be formalised to protect them for future generations.
I spoke about the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's role in this process during the announcement of the covenant at an event near Arrowtown, on Tuesday 5 August.
The Commission is working through the process of formalising the tracks and trails proposed as part of this process, and we have been in discussions with the Commissioner of Crown Lands on the best way to do this. While the covenants will protect the natural and cultural values of the land, it is the trails that will provide the public with legally enduring access.
Getting to this point has required the cooperation of many parties. Mr Lange and his company Soho Properties have worked hard to meet the Overseas Investment Office's public access conditions, and have generously offered to develop four additional publicly accessible trails.
We are working closely with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Department of Conservation and local groups to investigate options for making the proposed trails enduring. The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust has offered to become the controlling authority for any tracks created through this process and we have gladly accepted.
While there is still some way to go, the proposed trails have outstanding potential to expand on the extensive range of established trails developed in the Wakatipu Basin by community groups and the council.
All of the new trails would be within easy reach of Queenstown, providing opportunities for adventure, recreation, and appreciation of the area's rich scenery, history, and culture. They also have the potential to attract visitors who wish to explore and enjoy the area, spending money on accommodation, outdoor gear and stunning regional wine and food while they are in and around Queenstown.
Establishment of the covenant and the creation of enduring walkways and other access to this beautiful slice of New Zealand is a spectacular gesture from Mr Lange, and one that I sincerely hope is remembered for years to come.