New walking and cycle trails through parts of the iconic Remarkables Station have been agreed to in principle by landowner Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust.

Former owners, Dick and Jillian Jardine, gifted 900ha of their freehold land, at the foot of the Remarkables, to the trust last year, on the 100th anniversary of the family’s ownership.

An ‘open space covenant’ has been placed over the entire property, to protect the iconic landscape values and ecological values of the property in perpetuity.

Prior to a ‘Howdy Neighbour’ community event at Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau, QEII Whakatipu relationship manager Nita Smith told Mountain Scene having been the custodians of the station for just over a year, it felt like the right time to meet their new neighbours and share some of their long-term plans.

‘‘Such a gift in such an iconic location comes with huge opportunity and huge responsibility,’’ Smith says.

‘‘We have a commitment to upholding the wishes of the Jardines in generously gifting the property to QEII National Trust, and we also feel a strong commitment to ensure it can be an asset to the wider community, too.

‘‘It’s great to see how much interest there is from the local community in what we’re doing on Remarkables Station — this is just the beginning of our relationship and we’ll be bringing them along with us as we make plans for the future of the property.’’

Among projects underway are weed and predator control, in conjunction with Southern Lakes Sanctuary and Whakatipu Wildlife Trust.

Both of those are ‘‘a big focus’’, she says, while the trust’s also exploring opportunities to develop appropriate public access, where practical.

‘‘Understanding and respect will be critical to enabling public access, so we’ll need the local community to be our advocates,’’ Smith says.

Part of that’s working with the newly-formed Remarkables Trails Trust to open up walking trails and access on parts of the station.

QEII’s agreed in principle to a trail along the Remarkables foothills and will be looking for funding to deliver that.

Big plans: QEII National Trust Whakatipu relationship manager Nita Smith

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s also been working with the trust, which has also agreed in principle to a cycle trail through the property, on the western side of State Highway 6.

‘‘The exact route, design and timing for construction of the trail is still to be worked through, but we’re working constructively with Waka Kotahi on those finer details,’’ Smith says.

The long-term strategy for the property, which includes a working farm, leased by Matt Little, aims to ensure it’s an ‘‘iconic rural station that delivers best-practice land, water and biodiversity management’’, while also protecting and celebrating its heritage and cultural values, and positively contributing to the community.

‘‘It also needs to be self-sufficient economically, allowing QEII to invest in achieving our vision for the property,’’ she says.

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