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Protecting our precious places

Funding boost for high country covenants

Press release

25 August 2014

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is delighted to receive a $50,000 funding grant from Cromwell based Central Lakes Trust. The funds have been granted to support survey work required before National Trust covenants can be formally established on four high country stations located between Lake Wanaka and Arrowtown. 

Initiated by the landholder, Soho Property Ltd, the covenants will protect forever some 53,000 hectares of continuous landscape across the four adjoining stations. 

The proposal to covenant the land was announced in early August and is the largest private covenant proposal ever initiated in New Zealand.

The covenants will protect outstanding high country landscapes, the habitat of unique native plants and animals, and important historic and recreation values that New Zealanders can enjoy forever.

The survey work is required before the Soho covenants can be registered and public access easements can be established over the four stations.  The work is quite complex as all areas utilised for farming are excluded from the covenants. 

Survey costs for National Trust covenants are normally met by the National Trust.

National Trust Chief Executive Mike Jebson says the Central Lakes Trust grant makes a vital contribution towards the costs to register such a large covenant proposal.

The average size of a National Trust covenant is 30ha and around 120 covenants a year, or around 3,500ha of land is surveyed each year as part of the registration process. At 53,000ha the Soho covenants equal around 15 years of work for the National Trust, he says.

“Having support funds for this significant surveying job means we can progress this covenant proposal without curtailing our ability to resource the establishment of covenants elsewhere around the country.

“We are grateful for the generous support of the Trust to help with the perpetual protection of this truly spectacular landscape and recreation destination,” Mr Jebson says.

Paul Allison, Chief Executive, Central Lakes Trust says “Central Lakes Trust is proud to support this very important environmental project to help ensure public access to some of the most specular countryside in New Zealand.” 

Important montane and alpine tussocklands, cushion fields, wetlands, shrublands, rocky outcrops, and rare and endangered native plants and animals, such as whipcord hebe, a native dandelion, several species of gecko, New Zealand falcon, and kea will all be protected by the Soho covenants.

The land to be protected also has a rich history—the area has cultural significance to Ngai Tahu, was right at the centre of the Otago gold rush, and has a 125-year tradition of pastoral farming. There are many archaeological sites recorded on the stations. 

Recreational uses include trekking, 4WD trips, mountain biking, tramping, horse trekking and ski touring. The Motatapu Challenge is held annually across three of the stations, where competitors mountain bike and run marathons or triathalons along set courses and tracks. Skiers at Cardrona, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak skifields will always be able to overlook protected, unspoiled vistas. 


Media liaison

Anne McLean, QEII National Trust, 04 474 1689 (direct) or 04 472 6626 (main line).


Mike Jebson, Chief Executive QEII National Trust, 04 474 16843.

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