Hunter Valley Station public access agreement signed

1 October 2018

An agreement describing public access through Hunter Valley Station has been signed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Orange Lakes (NZ) Limited (Orange Lakes).

DOC, Land Information NZ (LINZ) and Orange Lakes have been working together to clarify public access across Hunter Valley Station to the Hunter River Valley in the Hunter River Conservation Area and Hāwea Conservation Park. The Walking Access Commission (NZWAC) provided advice to DOC and LINZ on the agreement.

The agreement describes the public use of Hunter Valley Station farm track and outlines how access can be obtained.  It ensures the public will know how and when they can use the farm track, while respecting the ability of Hunter Valley Station to operate as a working farm. Hunter Valley is Crown pastoral lease and the lessee has exclusive rights of possession. Without this agreement the public have no rights to access the property.

DOC Central Otago Operations Manager Mike Tubbs says DOC welcomes the agreement. “Improving public access to conservation areas is important to us. With this agreement the public now have a clear outline of the access to Hunter River Valley and Hāwea Conservation Park.”

Orange Lakes Director and lawyer Graeme Todd says “Whilst no one could point to any person having been unreasonably denied access over the farm track since Orange Lakes took over the Hunter Valley Station in 2017, we agreed it wouldn’t hurt for there to be more clarity around what access had been given since Orange Lakes took ownership, how access could be arranged and the terms upon which it would be granted.”

Under the agreement, up to six 4WD vehicles per day may be granted access to Hunter Valley Station farm track between December and April.  Winter conditions from 1 May to 30 November mean public access for 4WD vehicles during that time is generally unavailable. Mountain bike, foot and horse access will be available year-round, outside of a closure for lambing 1 October to 1 December.

The conditions of use are set out in the agreement and these must be signed and returned to the farm managers. Conditions include a $35 fee charged by Hunter Valley Station for each vehicle to contribute to the maintenance of the private farm track.

The arrangements and all necessary contact details to arrange access will be available on both the Hunter Valley Station and DOC websites.

Prior to this agreement, and since Orange Lakes took ownership in early 2017, access through Hunter Valley Station was not always well understood. This agreement will enable the public to have a better understanding of how to obtain consent to travel over the working farm to the public conservation land.

Formal public access for walking, horse riding and biking to the Hunter River Valley continues to be available via a 32-kilometre track from the Dingle Burn car park via Turihuka Conservation Area on the eastern side of Lake Hāwea.

In order to give time and space for the agreement to succeed, NZWAC will place on hold its application for an easement on Hunter Valley Station farm track, which had previously been lodged with the Commissioner for Crown Lands.

The terms of the agreement will be regularly reviewed by DOC, LINZ, Orange Lakes and NZWAC.

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