Land-swap enables new campsite across the lake

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A land-swap deal has paved the way for a campsite to be built near one of Queenstown’s most familiar lakeside landmarks.

Tourism firm Real Journeys, which operates vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, has swapped 700sq m of conservation land for 2000sq m of freehold land it owns at Beach Point land with the Department of Conservation at Walter Peak’s Von Peninsula.

The peninsula overlooks the Colonel’s Homestead and Walter Peak High Country Farm, to which TSS Earnslaw runs.

By June next year, the company will upgrade a 1.2km public walkway to Beach Point at the tip of the peninsula, and build a camping site, picnic area, barbecue, toilet and shelter. 

The camping site will be ideal for boat users, campers and riders on the Around the Mountains cycle trail.

DoC Queenstown’s Greg Lind says Real Journeys discovered that a part of Colonel’s Homestead was built on conservation land in the 1970s when it was rebuilt after a fire.

Real Journeys has embarked on a long-term plan to clear wilding trees and invasive weeds on Von Hill Peninsula.

The project took a major step forward on Tuesday, when 16 hectares of wilding Douglas fir were sprayed with herbicide in a joint operation with Doc and the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG).

The logging of another 13ha of Douglas fir on the eastern side of the peninsula will begin next month, part of an estimated 90ha of the species that will be removed either by logging or spraying.

Another 30ha of land will be cleared of invasive weeds such as broom, gorse and hawthorn.

Real Journeys commercial director Tony McQuilkin said the project’s genesis was the company’s purchase of 155ha at Walter Peak from Singaporean investors in late 2013.

“Once we had secured ownership, it was beholden on us to be good custodians of this land.”

Although some exotic trees would be retained and pockets of native trees and shrubs would be planted along the peninsula’s lake shore this winter, the area would “look different for a quite a while”.

“But we want to give our guests an authentic Central Otago experience, not a poor copy of North America.”

WCG co-chairman Peter Willsman said the restoration project was significant in the fight against wilding trees because of the peninsula’s ”protruding position”.

“The prevailing southwesterly winds catch the seeds and send them far across the mountainside in front of Queenstown.”

Otago Daily Times