Sections finally on market

A final claim could soon be staked on Cardrona's abandoned gold mining era sections, which are up for sale for the first time in 140 years.

Once occupied by Chinese gold miners and other early settlers dating back to the 1870s, the nine properties in and around Cardrona village have been put on the market by the Public Trust after the descendants of the original owners could not be traced.

Eight of the sections are next to, or opposite, the historic Cardrona Hotel and several are used as hotel car parking.

Public Trust retail customers general manager Matt Sale said solicitors previously acting for the Queenstown Lakes District Council tried unsuccessfully for six or seven years to identify descendants of the owners.

Court orders were then obtained in 2012 appointing the Public Trust to manage the abandoned land and further investigation was carried out by the trust.

''Following realisation of the properties, more extensive inquiries will be undertaken,'' Mr Sale said.

Proceeds from the sale of the land would be retained by the Public Trust for seven years, in the event of claims by relatives, before being transferred to the New Zealand Government Consolidated Fund.

Mr Sale would not reveal the property valuations, as the sections were being offered for tender with a no price marketing strategy.

The unserviced sections are listed with Harcourts and are zoned rural visitor, which allows for visitor and commercial activities subject to QLDC resource consent.

Harcourts agent Eamon Young said inquiries had come from throughout New Zealand, mainly from people who had either visited or lived in the area before, or were living there at present.

''The opportunity to purchase this land seems to be unlocking possibilities that may not have been there in the past.''

Among the interested parties is the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which will discuss the purchase of land at Cardrona during the public-excluded section of its full council meeting tomorrow.

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks said the council was considering two options to enable the creation of a village green - identified in the Cardrona Valley Structure Plan - on some of the abandoned land.

''We've got it in our programme to try and make that happen, so we may be involved in the tender process to try and acquire some land there,'' Mr Cocks said.

''There is an option, as an acquiring authority, we could apply to put a designation over it and that is something that is also being considered.''

Cardrona Valley Residents and Ratepayers Society chairman Barrie Morgan said the society wanted the council to designate some of the land for community use so car parking and a safe school bus stop area could be retained.

The properties have attracted interest from would-be owners in the past.

Former hotel proprietors Edmund and Rosemarie Jones are understood to have sought the title to one of the sections in the mid-1980s but their application was refused.

The Cardrona community and the council were angered on two occasions in 2008 when some of the properties opposite the hotel were fenced off by former Wanaka resident Andre Prassinos, who hoped to claim them.

In 2012, another former hotel owner, Brian Gilbert, gave up his claim to two of the sections, on which he had paid rates for many years.

The same year, retired Wanaka Presbyterian minister the Rev Catherine Little said several of the sections had been given to her grandfather - storekeeper Robert McDougall - by Chinese miners unable to pay their bills.

The legal work required to transfer ownership to her grandfather was never done, though, and she hoped the sites would become community-owned property if descendants could not be found.

Tenders for the properties close on July 11.

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