Farm enters conservation estate
Another slice of prime Waikato hill country is set to enter the region's conservation estate and produce some world class honey at the same time.
When the deal is finally done there will be nearly 500 hectares of easily accessible public land equipped with walking tracks and picnic spots.
The title to 275 hectares of rough farmland straddling State Highway 23 between Hamilton and Raglan will soon change hands from the Hope family estate to the NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust for just over $1m. It will then take the name of the trust's original patron and enter the public domain as the Ed Hillary Hope Bush Reserve.
The Waikato Regional Council has been involved in the deal and its natural heritage manager Kevin Collins says the location is prime.
"In terms of access for people from Hamilton, it's a great spot.
"It's probably 20 minutes away and nobody gets in there now but once the trust opens it up, there's some really nice walks in there.
"It's not rigorous - anyone can do it. And it's lovely."
All up there's still 300ha of pasture that will gradually be restored to native bush via direct colonisation as well as planting and spreading seed.
The council will also expand its pest control work to the new land.
Then there's the honey.
The dominant tree in the area is kanuka and there's no manuka.
So the trust has signed an agreement with the health company Comvita who will trial select plantings of Unique Manuka Factor trees, and, because there's no manuka, cross pollination won't be a problem.