Island getaway

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A Queenstowner building an unconsented tree hut on a willow island in Lake Wakatipu is at loggerheads with authorities.

Glenn Raymond’s structure just off the Frankton foreshore is hidden by dense trees.

He says he’s “just a good old Kiwi boy” enjoying “good old-fashioned fun”. That doesn’t wash with Land Information New Zealand, however, who say he’s illegally occupying Crown land.

But Raymond’s standing his ground.

Queenstown-based LINZ property manager Tracey Maclaren says he needs consent to build on the island – one of several in the lower Frankton Arm.

“The other option is that we may have to consider issuing a trespass notice.”

Local harbourmaster Marty Black referred the issue to Maclaren last week. “It’s been under everyone’s noses,” he says.

Black was first alerted when someone spied Raymond carting gear to the island.

The harbourmaster says he’s concerned about safety, as the island’s just above the Kawarau Falls Bridge and control gates.

“It’s a busy area with boats coming through, and you’ve got a couple of gates with recirculations.

“If we get a whole crowd of kids just above the dam, there’s some safety issues there, possibly.”

Mountain Scene visited Raymond – who wouldn’t give his surname – on the island on Tuesday.

“I’m just a boy building a tree house out in an island having fun – what a lot of people would like to do, that’s all it is.”

Raymond, who lives in Frankton, says when he first set foot on the island, while tiki touring, “I just went for a look and thought, ‘wow, wouldn’t that be cool to have a tree house in there.”‘

He says he’d just use it for himself, his two kids and friends over summer.

“It’s not a matter of me being a larrikin and getting pissed and doing silly things.”

To save money, he’s used recycled pallets but has also spent well over $1000 on timber.

Having been spoken to by Maclaren this week, he accepts he might be trespassed, but says: “I wonder what they’re going to trespass me from – the bloody trees in the lake?”

He argues that the island’s not land mass: “This is all just root mass, there’s no dirt in here, there’s silt that’s been collected over hundreds of years.”

He adds: “It’s just an outcrop of trees – that’s the way I look at it.”

No roots were disturbed to build the tree hut, he says. As to whether he’ll seek consent from LINZ, Raymond says: “There’s potential that I’ll go down that avenue.”

Meanwhile, Maclaren’s emailed LINZ property managers in Christchurch to ask them how they’d like to proceed.

She says Raymond could apply for consent, the same way people apply for moorings on Lake Wakatipu.

Her hunch, however, is he’s unlikely to get approval, and he’ll have to tear down his structure.

Local council planning & development boss Tony Avery confirms the issue’s a matter for the land owner.

In general, however, he says kids’ tree houses don’t need a consent.

“But if it was a tree house that then turned into a spare bedroom, for example, yes, it would require consent.”

scoop@scene.co.nz