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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