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Crown in new joint venture for Castle Hill Station

Crown in new joint venture for Castle Hill Station

More than two thirds of Castle Hill Station at Porters Pass in Canterbury has been purchased by the Crown in a partnership with Auckland business woman Christine Fernyhough, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"The government's conservation land agent, the Nature Heritage Fund, has paid $3.5m for 8,517 hectares of the 11,124 hectare station, including the area on which the well-known Mount Cheeseman skifield is located," Mr Carter said.

"This deal is the third in a trilogy of joint venture purchases by the Nature Heritage Fund in which South Island High Country farm land has been separated off from key recreation and conservation areas of national importance.

"At Castle Hill, Christine Fernyhough has taken ownership of the best farmland and will continue to farm it as part of her business interests," Mr Carter said.

"The land purchased by the Crown is to be protected and added to two surrounding conservation parks, securing permanent public access to the Mount Cheeseman skifield, two extremely popular rock climbing areas at Prebble and Gorge Hills, and some wonderful tramping, hunting and mountain biking spots. All of these are located about an hour's drive from Christchurch.

"As part of the deal, we have also agreed on a landscape covenant over the station to be farmed, and in return some limited grazing on some of the new conservation areas," Mr Carter said.

He said the Crown's purchase had occurred as part of the government's Public Wildlands Programme. This programme sought to ensure more lasting protection of and access to key recreation and conservation areas, at a time of rapidly changing land ownership, land use, and development.

Two other joint venture deals involving the Crown had taken place in the past two years in which high country farming areas were separated from conservation and recreation spots – at Clent Hills near Ashburton and Poplars Station in North Canterbury. These were in addition to the whole property purchase of Birchwood Station in North Otago and Canaan Downs near Nelson.

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