Generous gift: Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chairman Bruce Wills, left, with Jillian and Dick Jardine and their dog Geordie at Remarkables Station yesterday


They want it to be protected forever.

That’s why Dick and Jillian Jardine will gift the ownership of Remarkables Station to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) in two years’ time.

At a ceremony yesterday, they announced they’ll give 900 hectares of freehold land at the foot of the Remarkables to the trust on the 100th anniversary of the family’s ownership.

The couple, who are retaining some land surrounding their home near the lake’s shore, say they want the area’s landscape and beauty protected in perpetuity from subdivision and commercial development.

Jillian says they began thinking seriously about the land’s future about four years ago.

‘‘The main thing is our age — we’ve been thinking about the long-term.’’

They decided to act sooner rather than later, and having placed an area known as the Jardine Boulders under a QEII protective covenant in 2014, were familiar with the trust’s work.

‘‘Why wait? We’re ready for it — we know QEII and enjoy working with them.’’

QEII chairman Bruce Wills says the Jardines’ ‘‘extraordinarily generous’’ gift is both exciting and a huge responsibility.

It’s rare for the trust to agree to own a property, as its usual practice is to help landowners protect their properties with a QEII covenant.

The properties it already owns are generally small areas with ‘‘pretty precious biodiversity’’, Wills says.

Massive gift: The Jardines are handing over 900 hectares of freehold land at the foot of the Remarkables

‘‘Nothing anywhere near 900ha, and there’s no other working farm.’’

But the trust expects the property, now leased as a mixed deer, beef and sheep farm, to be economically self-sustaining for the foreseeable future.

It’ll soon be placed under a covenant to protect it from development.

Once QEII has ownership, it will look at ways of expanding public access, he says.

In 2016, the Jardines gave their former home, and the four-hectare lakefront site it sits on, to the University of Otago for use as a research retreat.