Kidds Bush road shut
Mead Rd ‘not a legal road’ – Cochrane family
Mead Rd access to Kidds Bush was closed yesterday by Hunter Valley Station, with the pastoral lease owners citing ongoing frustrations in negotiations with Land Information New Zealand.
Hunter Valley Station owners Taff and Penny Cochrane initially intended to close the road at Christmas but were persuaded to leave it open after Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley stepped in to negotiate periodic access that did not conflict with farming operations.
Closure means people who want access to Department of Conservation reserves and Kidds Bush camp at the top of Lake Hawea will have to go by boat.
The Cochranes issued amedia release last Thursday, detailing a break down in communication with Crown entities and the council over access, pastoral lease and farming issues.
Campers are keen for road access issues to be resolved as soon as possible.
Motor home owners Gabrielle and Perry Harris of Mount Maunganui and Julie Blackler of Gore said they were aware of the issues at Christmas but had not known about the closure.
Gabrielle Harris said it would be ‘‘very sad’’ because they knew many Motor Home Association members used the camp.
‘‘Everyone says you have to go to Kidds Bush.’’
‘‘We have been here four times and we’ve brought friends with us. We found out about it in the motor home book,’’ Harris said.
Perry Harris reckoned the feuding parties could end up with another fight on their hands when campers realised the only access after Tuesday would be by boat.
The Kidds Bush reserve was beautiful and peaceful and campers respected the facilities, they said.
Blacker and her keen angler husband Nigel have been visiting Kidds Bush on and off for 11 years, after being introduced to the camp by Nigel’s parents.
The couple bought a new motor home last year and brought it to Kidds Bush for the first time this Easter.
Blackler said she would cry if there was no more camping at Kidds Bush. She enjoyed being outside, cooking, reading and crocheting, while her husband fished.
‘‘There is no issue getting vehicles in here. It is a good road and I would like to think most people who come here are respectful of the stock. And people seem to be very clean. There is no rubbish when they leave. I have never been here with less than nine vehicles. Sometimes it is up to 13. It is such a good spot. We generally stay about five days,’’ Blackler said.
‘‘Money doesn’t seem to be an issue. Everyone seems to pay. I would like the issue to be resolved because it is a family friendly area. There are not that many family-friendly areas any more. Even though strangers are all around you, you feel safe here,’’ she said.
Wanaka locals are also keenly disappointed about the road closure, as the council has maintained the road for more than 50 years.
Hunter Valley Station has been discussing pastoral lease issues with Land Information New Zealand for many years and there are concerns the Kidds Bush access issue is being used as a bargaining ploy.
At a February Wanaka Community Board meeting, access advocate John Wellington said the council lost a chance to be a ‘‘circuit breaker’’ in the longrunning dispute when it decided last year to abandon court action to clarify the road’s legal status.
He suggested the council’s other and best option was to acquire the road again under the Public Works Act. The other parties could then be left to negotiate their other issues, he said.
By law, only the council can legalise the road. LINZ is not able to. But LINZ has offered to pay the council’s costs to complete the process and fence it.
Regular Kidds Bush camper Heather Thorne said ‘‘we just want the road open and the whole issue resolved’’
‘‘We use that area a lot and we feel we are being denied access to conservation areas at Lake Hawea,’’ she said.
The Cochranes said in their media release the closure was being done reluctantly.
‘‘The approach by lobby groups is emotional, destructive and personally hurtful to the Cochrane family, and often the resultant lobbying has been without merit. The approach favoured by these interests had largely been on the basis that the road is a legal road. This is not the case. It is part of the lease.’’
The Cochranes also said: ‘‘It was never the wish of Hunter Valley Station to restrict access so the public could not reach Kidds Bush. Quite the opposite in fact. HVS has offered permanent public access in return for addressing all its legitimate concerns.’’
Gabrielle and Perry Harris of Mount Maunganui at Kidds Bush.
Julie Blackler of Gore, at Kidds Bush.