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In a deal just finished, Kawarau Falls Station owners Bridget and Mike Mee have placed a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant on 170ha of their 800ha farm straddling the Wakatipu Basin’s southern entrance.
"I wanted to ensure the property, highly visible from many Queenstown locations, is protected in perpetuity and will remain as open space for future generations," Mr Mee said.
The move comes a year after Jillian and Dick Jardine announced they were giving 900ha of their neighbouring, covenanted Remarkables Station to the trust, from next year.
While the Mees are holding on to their covenanted land, it is equally protected.
QEII Trust chairman Bruce Wills said combined with the Remarkables Station, the preservation of open space in an area under increasing pressure from development was something the Mees felt very passionately about.
Mr Mee believed it was unfortunate Queenstown’s eastern corridor, Ladies Mile, has been lost to development, and was also unhappy the Queenstown Lakes District Council had allowed the Coneburn special housing area south of the Mees’ property.
While much of the property was hilly land north of The Remarkables skifield access road, around to Windy Point, which probably could not have been developed, about 50ha of flat land either side of State Highway 6 could have been developed.
While it might seem the Mees are missing out, Mr Mee said that was not in their thinking.
It was about "doing the right thing", he maintained.
Mr Mee said he was partly inspired by the major parks he had seen in London when he worked there.
He planned to continue farming deer and cattle on the covenanted land — "that’s a silty loam, which is as good a producing land as you can get".
"If we wanted to put hazelnuts in, if deer farming became unviable, or something, we can still do horticulture."
However, the covenant excluded dairying — "we can’t do dairy or dairy grazing because that’s a mess".
The Mees’ farm also includes Deer Park Heights.
"I want to leave that to the family to decide what they want to do, but most of it’s ONL [outstanding natural landscape], so you can’t do anything anyway."
- Philip Chandler