Land within the North Island's adventure playground is up for grabs as the Ruapehu District Council prepares to release more abandoned properties.
After successfully disposing of almost 55 hectares earlier this year, the council will advertise 20 properties in January.
Located in Ohura, Waiouru, Owhango and Raetihi, the properties would be keenly contested, the council's communications manager Paul Wheatcroft said. Areas near Ohura would benefit from the North Island Central Rail Trail developments, he said. The council had more than 400 people on a waiting list for the next tender process.
Classified as apparently abandoned under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, with rates unpaid for at least six years, the land will be tendered because owners had died without a will, people had "disappeared" or owners wished to abandon the land.
New owners would not be responsible for any unpaid back rates.
The council saw red following a TVNZ news item earlier this year about the land, which chief executive David Hammond said was a "beat-up" on the region.
The council was inundated with calls from upset residents who felt the district was portrayed as though land could not be given away, he said. The district did not have an abandoned land problem and the council was completing due process.
The properties would be advertised at least six weeks before tenders close, and management accountant projects Erik Lei said the council strove to ensure people who had a relationship with the land could continue to use it.
"We don't want to upset people more than necessary. We have to act within the policies but we are prepared to go through negotiation."
- Waikato Times