Mt Gerald Station under Crown review

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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More than 4400 hectares of Crown pastoral land in the Mackenzie Basin near Lake Tekapo could soon be transferred into freehold for private ownership.

The preliminary tenure review proposal suggests about three-quarters of Mt Gerald Station's 6200ha should be placed into freehold, with the remaining 1757ha put into full Crown ownership for conservation estate.

The property is located on the lower western slopes of the Two Thumb Range, at the confluence of the Godley and Macaulay rivers in the Mackenzie Basin.

Tekapo developer Michael Burstcher is listed as the station's pastoral lease-holder, but he said it was best not to comment on the proposal.

The Department of Conservation's report on the land, compiled in 2005, suggested the lower altitude parts had native flora and fauna that were "at risk", or "critically underprotected", while several threatened native bird species were recorded in this area, including the black stilt and wrybill.

The report also noted that the land was home to several dozen native insect and lizard species.

"The property makes a significant contribution to the high natural landscape values of the area; much of the property is visible from Lake Tekapo," the report said.

"It covers important access points to large areas of conservation land on the Two Thumb Range, an area that provides good opportunities for ski-touring and other recreation."

Under the proposal, much of the freehold area would still have public access provisions for recreational users, while the area considered to have the highest conservation values - known as the Island - would be largely placed into full Crown ownership.

People have until March 26 to submit on the proposal.

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- The Timaru Herald

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