Remarkables national park proposal gains traction

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The proposal to create a national park across the Otago-Southland region is gaining traction and the Federated Mountain Clubs held a successful public information session in Queenstown on Saturday night.

The proposal launched last month aims to create a national park area comprising The Remarkables, Hector Mountains, the Garvie Mountains, Old Woman Range, Old Man Range and the upper Waikaia Valley.

Federated Mountain Clubs president Peter Wilson said about 40 people attended the information session, which coincided with the New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival.

Public questions centred around the impact a national park listing would have on outdoor activities in the region and a recreational planning assessment would be carried out as part of the proposal.

“I can’t see why too many activities would be impacted.”

Mr Wilson said creating a national park for the area would ensure “heightened protection, heightened recognition, and better management”, and would also prevent large-scale mining activities being carried out in the region.

“It’s conservation land but it’s never been properly classified.”

As it stood, The Remarkables were not guaranteed protection, he said.

His comments come after the Government indicated it would consider law changes in light of the Supreme Court decision that ruled against revoking the special conservation status of the Ruahine Forest Park.

Mr Wilson said the court case and the possibility of a law change made it more important to ensure the land was properly protected.

“It does show that stewardship land – which is most of the Remarkables area – isn’t very well protected.”

The Federated Mountain Clubs would now meet district councils and the Southland Conservation Board.

A public information session would be held in Alexandra later this year, he said.

“We’ve definitely had reasonable levels of support.”