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About 38,000ha of northern Southland's Glenaray Station - New Zealand's largest high country pastoral lease - will become public conservation land if a preliminary tenure review proposal goes ahead.
Submissions are now open for the public to have their say on the proposal which has been developed for the 62,000ha station, made up of Glenaray and Whitecomb pastoral leases.
If it goes ahead, the 38,000ha proposed as conservation land will contribute to existing conservation areas and reserves nearby.
Glenaray Station, farmed by the Pinckney family for five generations, adjoins the Old Woman Range and Kopuwai Conservation Areas to the north, the Bain Block Conservation Area to the east, the Waikaia Forest Conservation Area to the south, and surrounds the Garvie Lakes Scenic Reserve.
In the proposal, an additional 13,400ha of freehold land would be subject to conservation covenants which would restrict activities such as grazing, vegetation clearance and burning. The rest of the pastoral lease would become freehold without conditions.
Glenaray's landscape, which was home to more than 60 threatened species and 15 rare plants, was regarded as internationally significant.
The scale and size of the property made the tenure review notable, the preliminary proposal said.
It was considered to contain some of the most scientifically and aesthetically important glacial landform features in New Zealand. It encompassed several highly scenic lakes within glacial cirques on the eastern flank of the Garvie Mountains and parts of the Old Woman Range, and it also offered extensive recreational and public access opportunities.
Among the threatened species that it was home to were the kea, the yellow-crowned parakeet, the New Zealand pigeon, the long-tailed cuckoo, the New Zealand falcon and the Piano Flat spider.
The property also contained historic goldfields, the remote sites regarded as excellent examples of 19th century goldfields.
In a statement, Commissioner of Crown Lands Craig Harris said the property's location and terrain was ideal for recreational activities including cross-country skiing, tramping, mountain biking, horse riding, hunting and fishing.
Everyone involved in the tenure review process, including the lessees, were committed to seeing the ``precious area'' protected for people to enjoy for years to come.
Submissions close on January 27.
Tenure review is a voluntary process that gives pastoral lessees an opportunity to buy some of their leasehold land. The rest of the land returns to Crown ownership, usually for conservation purposes.
Public consultation on management of the South Island high country was launched earlier this year following the announcement in February the Government was scrapping tenure review.
However, it was ongoing until the legislation changed and about 30 Crown pastoral leases were in the process.