National Park campaign on ice

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Campaigners calling for high country near Queenstown to become a national park say the future of their proposals hinges on a land tenure review.

Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) launched its Remarkable Outdoors campaign in June last year with the aim of creating The Remarkables National Park to protect the area.

FMC says the campaign has “picked up a lot of support”, but the group can’t take its proposals any further until the Commissioner of Crown Lands has finished a review of pastoral leases in the area.

“We need to see what the land looks like,” FMC president Peter Wilson says.

“We have not really had any objections about the campaign.

“The biggest issues have been with misunderstandings about what a national park would be used for.”

If the area became recognised as a national park, it would cover a large part of Otago/Southland, including the Waikaia, Pomahaka, Wye and Nevis rivers, the Remarkables Range, as well as the Tapuae o Uenuku, Garvie, Kopuwai and Old Woman ranges.

“It’s about time we saw another national park in this part of New Zealand.”

Only some sections of the area are public conservation land, which the group says offers some protection, but that a national park would unify the area’s management.

The group cites the under-representation of tussock grassland ecosystems in protected natural areas. They’ll push the campaign over summer and talk to the horse-riding community about access.

Jerome Sheppard, Land Information NZ deputy boss for Crown Property, says the proposed national park area covers a number of pastoral leases, as well as freehold land and conservation land.

A joint review of Glenarary and Whitecomb pastoral leases covering 62,000 hectares is in the early stages.

“Due to the variety of landholders in the area, tenure review alone would not achieve what the clubs are looking for.”