New walking and cycle trails through parts of Remarkables Station have been agreed to in principle by landowner the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust.
Former owners Dick and Jillian Jardine gave 900ha of their freehold land, at the foot of the Remarkables, to the trust last year, on the 100th anniversary of the family’s ownership.
An "open space covenant" had now been placed over the entire property, to protect the landscape values and ecological values of the property in perpetuity.
Prior to a "Howdy Neighbour" community event at Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau last night, QEII Whakatipu relationship manager Nita Smith told Mountain Scene having been the custodians of the station for just over a year, it felt like the right time to meet their new neighbours and share some of their long-term plans.
"Such a gift in such an iconic location comes with huge opportunity and huge responsibility.
"We have a commitment to upholding the wishes of the Jardines in generously gifting the property to QEII National Trust, and we also feel a strong commitment to ensure it can be an asset to the wider community, too.
Among projects under way were weed and predator control, in conjunction with Southern Lakes Sanctuary and the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust. The trust was also exploring opportunities to develop appropriate public access where practical.
"Understanding and respect will be critical to enabling public access, so we’ll need the local community to be our advocates."
Part of that was working with the newly formed Remarkables Trails Trust to open up walking trails and access on parts of the station. QEII had agreed in principle to a trail along the Remarkables foothills and would be looking for funding for that.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency had also been working with the trust, which had also agreed in principle to a cycle trail through the property, on the western side of State Highway 6.
"The exact route, design and timing for construction of the trail is still to be worked through, but we’re working constructively with Waka Kotahi on those finer details," Ms Smith said.
The long-term strategy for the property, which includes a working farm, leased by Matt Little, aimed to ensure it was an "iconic rural station that delivers best-practice land, water and biodiversity management", while also protecting and celebrating its heritage and cultural values, and positively contributing to the community.