The disposal of Contact Energy's land holdings in the
Upper Clutha is ''largely complete'', according to to the
company's trading, development and geothermal resources project
manager Neil Gillespie.
Contact Energy inherited 21 properties along the Clutha River
upstream of Lake Dunstan from the former Electricity
Corporation of New Zealand in the late 1990s.
The properties were acquired under the Public Works Act and
by other means as part of plans to build new hydro-electric
However, in May 2012 Contact Energy announced it had
withdrawn from its plans, and it then began disposing of the
Mr Gillespie told the Otago Daily Times last week that
process was now finished, apart from negotiations that were
continuing over a couple of small pieces of land near the Red
Bridge, at Luggate.
More than 100ha of the Contact Energy land was sought by the
government-funded Nature Heritage Fund on behalf of the
Department of Conservation and Mr Gillespie confirmed sale
and purchase agreements had been concluded.
The land is understood to be be considered valuable by Doc
partly because of its rare and endangered plant life.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith is expected to announce
details of Doc's acquisitions in the next week.
A group of 41 Otago citizens led by Emeritus Prof Sir Alan
Mark had called on Contact to consider ''gifting'' the land
Some of the land disposed of by Contact is likely to feature
in plans for a new cycle track linking Wanaka and Cromwell.
Tracks have already been established along the Clutha from
Wanaka to a point downstream of Luggate and from Cromwell to
The remaining 40km link along the river would be likely to
pass through some of the former Contact land.
Mr Gillespie said the new owners were aware of the cycle
track idea but purchase agreements did not contain any
commitment to a track.
He believed, however, several of the new land owners would
welcome a track.
Upper Clutha Tracks Trust chairman Alan Gillespie said
yesterday it was hoped a feasibility study on the Luggate to
Lowburn track would be done by early summer.
Some preliminary investigations had been carried out by trust
members and surveying and engineering firm, BTW South Ltd, of
Cromwell, had been appointed to carry out a feasibility
The trust expected the study would be finished by ''early
''That will first of all tell us whether access is available
right through there and secondly, if it is possible to form a
The trust also wanted to know how much a track might cost and
more about how to construct a track in the vicinity of
historic gold mining areas.
Mr Gillespie said the dream had always been to construct a
track that ran the entire length of the Clutha.
An application for funding through the Government's ''Great
Rides'' initiative was rejected by the Government in 2011.
Building the Luggate to Lowburn section, along with the newly
proposed Cromwell Gorge track, would provide a complete trail
from Wanaka to Lawrence.
''It's really about linking trails together,'' Mr Gillespie
said, ''and besides it would be a really nice day-ride down