Kidds Bush road shut

Mead Rd ‘not a legal road’ – Cochrane fam­ily

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

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.

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