New Zealand’s largest private land protection agreement includes the ecological restoration project of a huge expanse of iconic high country land between Wanaka and Queenstown. The land is all under the foreign ownership of a Swiss based multimillionaire music producer.

The land encompasses four crown pastoral lease packages totalling an investment package of somewhere north of $30 million dollars. The four stations are Motutapu, Mt Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak. This 53, 000 Ha area of land boosts the land protected by QEII covenants by 40% taking it to about the same size as Stewart Island.

The agreement has been made between the international musician Robert “Mutt” Lange and the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. The aim of the covenant that has been placed on the land is to protect the iconic high country landscape and its flora and fauna.

The covenants mean that a network of 21 tracks totalling more than 130 km and criss crossing the stations will become public. Most of the tracks are existing but the 4 new ones will be funded by the property company.

An area totalling five percent of the total land covenanted is at the head of the Motutapu Valley where the owner’s home is located. This area will continue to be farmed.

The track access points from Wanaka will be from just south of the Cardrona Ski fields access road, from the ski field car park in summer and via the Motutapu Alpine track which goes from Glendhu to Macetown. From Queenstown they will be from Arrowtown and the Skippers Canyon.

In addition to walking tracks there will be mountain biking, horse trekking and four wheel drive routes. The ecological restoration project has involved fencing off waterways, wetlands, tussocklands and shrublands. Most of the farmland, with the exception of the valley floors, has been retired from farming. There has been planting extensively along the river margins. Pest control work has targeted weeds including wilding pines, goats, opossums and mustelids. Native Weka are being reintroduced.

What a wonderful playground to have on our back doorstep. I can’t wait to get fit enough to make the most of it!!!