The government purchased St James Station as public conservation land in 2008, funded by the Nature Heritage Fund.
It was purchased to protect its natural, physical and cultural values and to open it up to outdoor recreation and tourism.
Vegetation within the area includes red, mountain and silver beech/tawhairauriki/ tawhairaunui forests, mānuka/kānuka and matagouri scrublands, numerous alpine species, at least five species of tussock, and a vast expanse of valley-floor native grasslands. Some 430 indigenous species of flora and 30 native bird species have been identified.
The St James offers a great range of recreation opportunities for a wide range of interests and abilities. There are a number of different tramping routes, including the St James Walkway and part of Te Araroa - a walking trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Visit the Te Araroa website.
There are fantastic mountain-biking opportunities including the St James Cycle Trail, part of a national cycleway project. Parts of this trail, and other tracks in the region are also open to horse-riding and 4WD.
Hanmer Springs Ski Area (formerly the Amuri Ski Field) falls within the conservation area.
Māori access routes across the top of the South Island ran through the station, and there are a number of early European pastoral farming historic sites including old homesteads, huts, and rabbit fences. The area was one of the largest operating cattle/sheep stations in the country, dating back to 1862. Find out about St James historic high country homesteads.