Queen Charlotte a track like no other
OPINION: The Queen Charlotte Track Landowners Cooperative will celebrate seven years in operation this month.
Ten private landowners, including a Maori trust, make up the members of the cooperative, which was formally incorporated after 20 years of landowner contributions to the track.
The cooperative has worked with the Department of Conservation for over seven years to ensure public access, maintenance and improvements of the track.
Those improvements include the completed installation of 16 beautiful seats and benches, from Kenepuru Saddle to Anakiwa, along with hand-carved location signs and native plantings.
Many seats and benches are located at the top of rises and hills, like the two at Shamrock Ridge, where visitors love to take a break and photograph the stunning views.
These view points and rest areas are well received. Two picnic tables were also installed, one at Blackrock Camp and another at Blackrock Station, and a toilet at Te Mahia Saddle, which we installed in conjunction with DOC.
Visitors just love the unique character these seats, benches and signs give to the track.
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Each year the cooperative conducts surveys of hundreds of hikers and mountainbikers on the track, who come from all over the world.
We ask them what improvements they want and then we set about meeting those requests. Initially they were for more toilets and then it was stopping places, with seats, tables and benches.
We have picked superb locations all along the track and met their requests.
The pass system, whereby users pay to walk or bike sections of the track, has allowed us to make substantial improvements, along with help from DOC in the form of financial and maintenance assistance.
The landowners, who have all been in the Marlborough Sounds for many decades (some families for over a century), feel a great sense of ownership of the track.
People like Rod Eatwell who was honoured at a parliamentary awards ceremony in March for his work on the track. He is one of the landowners who helped create it and has helped maintain it, even at 88-years-old.
The landowners are very concerned to see that the track is protected. It needs to remain a great asset for the Marlborough region and deserves careful management.
To help with that management DOC, the cooperative and Queen Charlotte Track Incorporated have a stakeholders forum that is shortly to sign a memorandum of understanding.
We feel that the track public/private partnership between the three landowner groups, the cooperative, DOC and the Marlborough District Council is a great example for New Zealand and should be celebrated.
- Lynda Scott-Kelly is the Queen Charlotte Track Landowners Cooperative director
- The Marlborough Express