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At a meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District infrastructure committee yesterday, councillors were told Meads Rd in Hawea had been closed in December due to cracking on the road between the station homestead and Terrace Creek.
Access to the alpine recreation area beyond the station was now prevented by the unstable road and the risk of a 60m section falling into Lake Hawea.
Council maintenance and operations manager Erin Moogan said the way forward was complicated — some sections were owned and maintained by council, but others were not.
The council maintained the road up to the homestead, but the damaged section was in an area that had not been historically maintained by council.
Council roading operations and contracts manager Ben Greenwood told councillors he had received an email on Wednesday night from Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd, a director of Orange Lakes (NZ) Ltd, the company owned by US television host Matt Lauer and his wife and which bought the lease of the Hunter Valley Station in 2017.
Mr Greenwood said Mr Todd stated the only acceptable position was to repair the damaged road.
When asked by committee chairman Cr Quentin Smith if there was a specific reason the company’s preference was to not realign the road, Mr Greenwood said he had been told ‘‘further encroachment into an area that is actively farmed was not acceptable for stock management purposes’’.
At present, public access for walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders and 4WD vehicles is available by permission only and must be arranged with Orange Lakes at least one day prior to arrival to the station.
There is no access during lambing (October 1 to December 1) and no access to 4WD vehicles between May 1 and November 30.
Access may also be restricted during farming operations.
Ms Moogan said she thought there was a ‘‘desire from the station not to have public access through the station’’.
Councillors voted to support the council staff’s preferred option of realigning the road, which staff said would likely be the least costly and most resilient option.