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Remarkables Mountain Lodge would be a travesty

Thursday, February 12, 2004 - Dunedin

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Remarkables Mountain Lodge would be a travesty

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society is horrified over a proposal to establish a private mountain lodge in the heart of the proposed Remarkables Conservation Park.

A company is proposing to build a 40 bed private lodge with boardwalks in the Upper Wye Creek Basin on the Remarkable Range close to Queenstown.

Forest and Bird President, Dr Gerry McSweeney said it would be a travesty if the Department of Conservation allows a private lodge in such a pristine mountain basin.

"Allowing new private occupation of a proposed park would be absurd when the Crown is buying back the private interests in the South Island High Country, in order to open them up to public use and create conservation parks."

The Wye Creek Basin is a popular day walk. It is one of the very few easily accessible, and incredibly spectacular alpine day walking opportunities in Central Otago.

"You only need to walk for an hour beyond the Remarkables Ski field, and you feel like you've escaped into a wilderness where there are no human structures."

"There is no need to build accommodation high up in the mountains, with all the attendant problems of sewage, and waste water, when there are 1000's of beds at the foot of the hill in Queenstown." Dr McSweeney said.

The proposal includes building boardwalks and tracks and bringing in more than 3,000 guided walkers a year.

"This is likely to turn the basin into a private commercial zone which is inappropriate in the middle of a proposed conservation park." Dr McSweeney said.

"The Wye Creek Basin has wonderful tarns and wetlands with many sensitive alpine plants, which are likely to be trampled to death, by swarms of high fee paying commercial clients."

NOTE

Electronic images of Wye Creek Basin available on request.

The upper Wye Creek Basin is on the eastern faces of the Remarkables, which form a spectacular mountain backdrop to Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. The basin is a hanging cirque, surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Remarkables, with a series of tear shaped glacial tarns. It is separated from the Remarkables Ski field by a cirque basin and a high saddle. The Wye Creek valley to the South is a steep sided valley with cascading waterfalls. It has a walking track up it from State High Way 6 near Kingston on Lake Whakatipu.

The Remarkables Ski road provides easy access up to 1,600m and from there it is a short steep walk past Lake Alta up to the Wye Saddle at about 2,000m, before dropping into the Wye Basin.

It is popular for sightseers, trampers, day walkers, rock climbers, ski touring, and Nordic ski-ing.

The upper Wye Basin has important botanical values, with extensive tussock grasslands, alpine and subalpine flowers. The area is notable as the most eastern extension of several species, including several rare and threatened species of hebes.

Contact: Dr Gerry McSweeney, President, 03 318 8246 (h/w) Sue Maturin, Otago/Southland Field Officer, 03 477 9677 (w), 03 487 6125(h) 021 222 5092

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