The Press

The promised land

A Queen­stown cou­ple’s de­ci­sion to gift hun­dreds of hectares of pris­tine land worth mil­lions of dol­lars was about ‘‘do­ing the right thing’’ for the land­scape.

- Deb­bie Jamieson re­ports.

A Queen­stown cou­ple’s de­ci­sion to gift hun­dreds of hectares of pris­tine land worth mil­lions of dol­lars was about ‘‘do­ing the right thing’’ for the land­scape.

‘‘We know the an­ces­tors who are not here would be very proud.’’

Some­time in the mid-1980s, a plan was put for­ward to move Queen­stown Air­port on to Re­mark­ables Sta­tion.

It was the cat­a­lyst for farm­ers Dick and Jil­lian Jar­dine, who own the sta­tion, to con­sider the fu­ture of the stun­ning land­scape nes­tled be­tween the Re­mark­ables moun­tain range and Lake Wakatipu at the south­ern en­trance to Queen­stown.

They did al­low some to be sold – the first de­vel­op­ment on the land was the ex­clu­sive Jacks Point sub­di­vi­sion, now fea­tur­ing thou­sands of homes and an in­ter­na­tional golf course.

In 2016, their four-hectare Wool­shed Bay prop­erty was gifted to the Univer­sity of Otago’s Foun­da­tion Trust to be de­vel­oped as a re­search re­treat for aca­demics.

Now, they have gifted 900ha of their most spec­tac­u­lar land to the Queen El­iz­a­beth II Na­tional Trust (QEII), which is ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s nat­u­ral her­itage.

It will con­tinue to be leased as awork­ing farm for the fore­see­able fu­ture, but the ar­range­ment pro­tects the land from any fu­ture de­vel­op­ment in per­pe­tu­ity.

Dick Jar­dine said peo­ple of­ten called want­ing to buy a slice of the prop­erty, but they wanted to keep it ‘‘as it is’’.

‘‘We’ve been very proud to look af­ter it, es­pe­cially be­cause it’s the rest of the world that see it. We just want to be part and par­cel of do­ing the right thing and keep­ing it right.’’

Dick Jar­dine in­her­ited the prop­erty from his fa­ther, af­ter it was orig­i­nally pur­chased by his grand­fa­ther in 1922.

‘‘My grand­fa­ther al­ways wanted a place with a hill on it, so he bought Kawa­rau Falls Sta­tion, next to the Re­mark­ables.’’

Over the years the farm grew as more land was bought and some was sold.

Jar­dine re­turned from Aus­tralia when his fa­ther bought Loch Linnhe Sta­tion, to the south.

‘‘I love the moun­tains. I love mus­ter­ing I love stock. I’m a stock­man, re­ally,’’ he said.

Dur­ing those years Queen­stown be­came New Zealand’s most well known in­ter­na­tional tourism des­ti­na­tion, bring­ing a boom­ing pop­u­la­tion.

‘‘When we were kids go­ing to school, there was only about nine or 11 of us go­ing on the school bus to Queen­stown. Now there’re three schools or more,’’ Jar­dine said.

About four years ago the cou­ple, who are now in their 70s, started to think about what they wanted for the fu­ture of the land.

‘‘De­vel­op­ments were hap­pen­ing all around, and we don’t want that spe­cial land ever to be de­vel­oped,’’ Jil­lian Jar­dine said.

They were al­ready in­volved with the trust af­ter putting a QEII covenant in place on part of the sta­tion known as the Jar­dines’ Boul­der Field, where large boul­ders, some the size of buses, are pop­u­lar for sight-see­ing and rock-climb­ing.

Their de­ci­sion to gift 900ha gives them com­fort that their wishes will be met, and they are meet­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of their own fam­ily.

‘‘We know the an­ces­tors who are not here would be very proud,’’ Jil­lian Jar­dine said.

Dick Jar­dine said they could have sold the land but had not con­sid­ered the value.

‘‘That’s what a lot of peo­ple ask, but that’s not the point of the whole thing. The point is do­ing some­thing nice with it and it be­ing there for­ever.’’

It had been a won­der­ful place to bring up their fam­ily, and they in­tended to stay on part of the prop­erty, Dick Jar­dine said.

‘‘You couldn’t get a bet­ter place. It’s unique.’’

QEII Trust chair­man Bruce Wills said mem­bers were ex­cited, hum­bled and a lit­tle daunted by the gift. ‘‘To have this as a pro­tected open space in per­pe­tu­ity is some­thing that all New Zealan­ders can be proud of,’’ he said.

Well-known Queen­stown phi­lan­thropist Eion Edgar was at the pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony yes­ter­day and said the gift was un­be­liev­able.

‘‘They re­ally do think about the fu­ture. They’ve looked af­ter their fam­ily, now they are look­ing af­ter the na­tion.’’

‘‘You couldn’t get a bet­ter place. It’s unique.’’ Dick Jar­dine

 ??  ?? Dick and Jil­lian Jar­dine
Dick and Jil­lian Jar­dine
 ??  ?? Re­mark­ables Sta­tions sits be­tween the Re­mark­ables moun­tain range and Lake Wakatipu.
Re­mark­ables Sta­tions sits be­tween the Re­mark­ables moun­tain range and Lake Wakatipu.

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