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Spectacular central Otago landscape protected

Hon David Parker
Minister for Land Information
Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation

31 January 2008 Media Statement
EMBARGOED TO 3pm, 31 January

Spectacular central Otago landscape protected

The Labour-led government is continuing to protect biodiversity and spectacular landscape in the South Island high country with the purchase of almost 8,000 hectares of land between Omarama and St Bathans, Land Information Minister David Parker and Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick announced today.

The 7,861 hectare Twinburn property is a pastoral lease in Central Otago. It is located within the boundaries of the proposed Oteake Conservation Park and adjoins Michael Peak Station, which the government bought last year to also include in the park.

“The purchase of Twinburn is another key milestone in establishing the conservation park and means there will be permanent public access to areas where there has been limited access in the past,” David Parker said.

“New recreational areas will be opened up for activities like cross country skiing, tramping, horse riding, mountain biking and photography. Opportunities include the ascent of Central Otago’s highest peak, Mt St Bathans, and four wheel drive travel across the dividing range between Otago and Canterbury.”

Steve Chadwick said the property had high conservation values because of its beautiful landscape, distinctive plant life, and exciting recreational opportunities.

“It covers a substantial part of the St Bathans Range of Central Otago and forms an integral part of the stunning Upper Manuherikia basin. This is one of only two basins in Central Otago remaining with indigenous vegetation from the valley floor to the tops.

“The biodiversity values include shrublands, wetlands and tussock grasslands, set on the unique Canterbury-Otago greywacke-schist transition zone.”

The property was purchased from the Patterson family for $4.8 million. About 7,000 hectares of Twinburn will become conservation land. However, irrigated and other developed farmland will be available to exchange for other areas in the vicinity with high conservation values.

See... twinburn_map__for_media_release_PDF.pdf

Q&A attached

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


Why did the government buy the whole of Twinburn?

The pastoral lessee (the Patterson family) approached the government offering the property for sale as a whole. The government was interested because about 90 percent of the property is suitable for conservation purposes, and adjoins Michael Peak Station, which was purchased last year by the government. Together, land from these properties will form an important part of the proposed Oteake Conservation Park.

The Crown takes possession of Twinburn today.


Where is the property located and what is it currently used for?

The Twinburn pastoral lease is divided into two blocks: a 1,928 ha Home Block on the Omarama side of the St Bathans Range and a 5,933 ha Run Block in the upper Manuherikia River catchment. Twinburn adjoins the Michael Peak property to the south and east.

Twinburn is situated about 16km from Omarama and 15km from St Bathans. The property provides views of Central Otago and the Mackenzie Basin, including the Hawkdun, Ewe and Dunstan ranges and Chain Hills.

Twinburn is predominantly steep hill country and mainly run as a merino fine wool operation, although small numbers of cattle and deer are also farmed.

Some 6,000 hectares of Twinburn have not been developed and so conservation values are high.


Will the lessee retain any interests or rights in the property?

About 360 hectares of developed land surrounding the homestead will be retained as Crown land by LINZ, with the lessee granted rights to occupy the homestead and to continue farming operations for two years (with a right of renewal for a further two years). This area is to be made available for the tenure review of the adjoining Dunstan Peaks pastoral lease property.

The lessee will have the right to graze about 1,500 hectares of land in the Home Block for two years (non-renewable). This is land that has been oversown and topdressed. The lessee will also retain a right of way for farming and stock movement over some existing farm tracks. In addition, the lessee will be able to continue grazing part of the Run Block until April 2008.


How was the sale price determined?

The purchase price for Twinburn was negotiated between the lessee (the Patterson family) and Land Information New Zealand, based on market valuation. Both parties obtained expert valuation advice.


What progress is being made on high country parks?

Significant progress has been made towards the establishment of a network of high country parks (about 20 are proposed). Seven new parks have been opened (Ahuriri, Korowai-Torlesse, Te Papanui, Eyre Mountains/Taka Ra Haka, Ruataniwha, Molesworth, and Hakatere).

Except for Molesworth, the parks were formed from land obtained through tenure review and lease purchases being combined with already existing public conservation land.

The establishment of further parks depends on land being made available from tenure review and lease purchases, which are voluntary negotiated processes. Broadly speaking, however, park formation is anticipated in areas such as the Ida/Hawkdun/St Bathans range (Oteake), the Kaikouras, the Two Thumb Range, the Remarkables, and Lake Hawea headwaters.


Do any other properties need to be acquired before the Oteake Conservation Park can be established?

Substantial progress has been made towards the proposed Oteake Conservation Park, especially as a result of this purchase, last year's purchase of Michael Peak Station, and a number of tenure review outcomes. Tenure reviews and land exchanges are likely to contribute further areas to the park in the future.


ENDS

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