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QE2 Trust protection covenant for Kaikouras

September 15, 2005

QE2 Trust protection covenant for large part of the Seaward Kaikouras

A large chunk of the Seaward Kaikoura has just been protected by a Queen Elizabeth 2 National Trust covenant because of its national environmental significance.

The agreement on the majestic Puhi Peaks property north-west of Kaikoura is the highest privately owned land in the country, rising to an altitude of 7928 ft.

It contains many rare and endangered endemic bird, animal and plant species. It has been identified as an area of international importance under the significant natural areas designation. It has huge diversity in landforms and vegetation and bird life several large animal species.

The Puhi Peaks reserve managing director is Don Cameron who with his wife Robyn run the upmarket Kaikoura Wilderness Walkway. The 863ha area under covenant is to be known as the Puhi Peaks Nature reserve.

They have embarked on the control of possums, goats, and stoats in the area, especially in the shearwater colony, and the removal of all domestic sheep and cattle.

``We want to protect and enhance the natural character of the land with particular regard to the indigenous and endemic flora and fauna. We want to look after the outstanding landscape values of the land,’’ Cameron said today.

``We want to protect and maintain the internationally important Hutton’s shearwater colony. Finally we want to preserve and enhance tracks, buildings, and other facilities of the Kaikoura Wilderness Walkway.

The feature of the reserve is the rare and endangered Hutton’s shearwater colony which nest high in the mountains.

``We are in the process of forming a charitable trust for the birds to raise capital for research and pest control.

The Puhi Peaks covenant area includes the largest, highest and most biologically and physically diverse block on the property, and includes the Shearwater colony and rare fauna.

The covenant area contains one of two remaining breeding colonies of the shearwater, situated on an extremely steep slope amongst midribbed snowgrass, and very difficult to access, either on foot or by air.

Also present are the black-eyed gecko, the Kaikoura scree weta, and a cockroach. Birds include kea, falcon, harrier, gulls, bellbird, tomtit. brown creeper, robin, rifleman, warbler, pipit, fantail, whiteye, pigeon, paradise duck, kingfisher,chaffinch, blackbird, thrush, and several introduced passerines.

The first black-eyed gecko in NZ was discovered on the property in the late 1970s and is the rarest gecko in the country.

Other vertebrate and invertebrate animals and the aquatic fauna are unknown but are likely to be plentiful. Relatively quiet red deer and Arapawa sheep are an added visitor attraction along the Walkway.

The QE2Trust said as the Kaikoura Wilderness Walkway and the new Shearwater Lodge are commercial walking ventures, access is strictly controlled, with emphasis on guided walks of a high yield-low impact nature.

The Puhi Peak reserve had the potential to become a ``major visitor attraction for recreation and enjoyment’’, the trust said.

The 28 year old QE2Trust has helped protect 71,000 hectares of private land through covenants and it has the power to ensure the conditions mutually agreed are adhered to.

ENDS

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