Introduction

An agreement describing public access through Hunter Valley Station has been signed by DOC and Orange Lakes (NZ) Ltd.

Date:  28 September 2018

DOC, Land Information NZ (LINZ) and Orange Lakes (NZ) Limited (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.

Additional information 

Track condition

The track is some 42 kilometres in length from the station homestead to the Hāwea Conservation Park. Four hours should be allowed to drive each way. The trip involves a number of creek and river crossings which are often in flood. 

How do I gain access through the station?

Public seeking access must contact the farm manager prior to using the track. At least 24 hours’ notice will normally be required. The preferred method of contact is via email on hvfarmingco@gmail.com alternatively public users can call on +64 3 443 1242. 

What are the access requirements?

Vehicle access is limited to 4WD and it is recommended these are fitted with off-road tyres, a snorkel, or other suitable means to avoid hydraulicing. Any 4WD travelling alone must have a winch. The farm track is not suitable for light vehicles and there is no cell phone coverage for the length of the track. Vehicle access is also restricted to daylight hours only. A $35 fee per vehicle applies for road maintenance. 

Is the road maintenance fee unusual and how will it be managed? 

While not common there are other examples such as the Waiorau Snow Farm access road to the Pisa Conservation Area.

It is authorised under a Recreation Permit from LINZ and will be payable to and managed by Hunter Valley Station. 

What is expected of users?

Hunter Valley Station is a working farm and users must respect the landowner’s stock and property at all times. This includes: staying on the track until they reach the Hāwea Conservation Park or other adjoining public conservation lands; leave gates as they find them; and use stiles where provided. Users are also required to carry sufficient water and have adequate protection against the elements. Camping is not permitted on Hunter Valley Station.

Complete the Hunter Valley Station visitor form. 

How to provide feedback on access issues?

Public users should not assume access will be available at any time and access must be arranged with Orange Lakes prior to arriving at the Station. A means to provide feedback will be available on the DOC website. This feedback will be used in the regular reviews of the agreement. 

Who will maintain the road?

The farm track is managed by Hunter Valley Station. 

Do parties now consider access issues to be resolved?

The agreement will require the commitment and goodwill of Hunter Valley Station and responsible use by the public to work. 

What is the term of the agreement?

The agreement has no fixed term and will be regularly reviewed by DOC, Orange Lakes Limited and WAC.

Contact

Department of Conservation, +64 4 496 1911

Graeme Todd, Orange Lakes Director and lawyer, +64 27 433 0457

Asher Wilson-Goldman NZ Walking Access Commission Communications Manager, +64 21 818 694

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