Conservation Week: Huge chunk of high country station purchased

  • Chris Carter

Two thirds of a major high country station in North Canterbury has been purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund for recreation and conservation, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"The fund has spent $1.89m on around 4000 hectares of the Poplars Station near Lewis Pass, an area traversed by very popular tramping routes and home to the great spotted kiwi," Mr Carter said.

"This is an extremely exciting purchase and I am delighted to be able to announce it on the eve of Conservation Week ( August 4-10). It marks another step in ongoing efforts by the Department of Conservation and the Government to secure some of New Zealand's iconic high country landscapes for the public.

"Poplars Station is almost completely surrounded by Lake Sumner Forest Park, an area of dramatic beauty. State Highway 7, a major tourist route, runs through the middle of the property, giving it a high public profile and making it a considerable asset to the region," Mr Carter said.

He said the station was the gateway to the Lewis Pass National Reserve. The new reserve land included all the land surrounding the Hope-Kiwi hut and the Upper Hope, Doubtful and Boyle River valleys, all of which were very popular tramping areas.

The mixed beech forest and shrubland that covered much of the newly purchased land was home to numerous native species of bird, including the severely threatened yellowhead (mohua) and the great spotted kiwi.

"While kiwi are rapidly declining in many parts of New Zealand this area continues to produce some of the highest kiwi counts in the South Island," Mr Carter said.

He said protection of the area had come about through co-operation between the landowner of Poplars and the Nature Heritage Fund.

"In addition to the sale price, the landowner is able to farm his remaining land more intensively than he could before because DoC has agreed to erect fencing and signage to direct the public, who use the area, away from farmlands and into the newly purchased open spaces," Mr Carter said.

"This arrangement is a classic example of how DoC can work with landowners in the high country of the South Island to their mutual benefit. I hope other farmers who use much of the iconic landscape down the eastern side of the Southern Alps will recognise that working with DoC carries very real opportunites for them."

Note: electronic pictures of Poplars Station are available.