A New Zealand couple, Dick and Jillian Jardine, have donated a multimillion-dollar slice of New Zealand’s most spectacular landscape to a conservation charity to protect it from development and ensure it remains unspoiled for future generations.
The couple from Queenstown are giving 900 hectares of their Remarkables Station to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII), which is dedicated to protecting the country’s natural heritage.
Sitting at the foot of the Remarkables mountain range and skirts the edge of Lake Wakatipu, the pristine land holds some of the most recognisable scenery in the country.
Keen on protecting natural reserves, Jillian Jardine said she wanted to see the biodiversity and “iconic nature” of the land protected in perpetuity and said her family had spent four years discussing the decision.
“We thought about this idea and it just stuck so it feels like the right thing to do,” she said. “We want to keep it as it is forever, we don’t want buildings all over it or housing, there’s so much housing going in … we want to be part of saving something.”
The Jardines – who are well-known philanthropists – declined several offers from overseas developers.
In a statement, the trust said the gift was “hugely significant for the Wakatipu area and wider New Zealand”.
The trust’s chair, Bruce Wills, said: “Open landscapes in the Wakatipu basin have come under increasing pressure from subdivision and commercial development driven by the twin pressures of population growth and tourism.
“But the wide-open landscapes of the district are the very values that have attracted both tourists and new residents to the area.”
According to the Guardian, the gifted property is freehold land, currently leased as a working farm, and that will continue for the foreseeable future.
The central lakes region of the South Island is one of the wealthiest enclaves in New Zealand, and home to high networth individuals such as PayPal founder Peter Thiel, jewellery mogul Michael Hill, and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan.
According to the 2013 census, more than half of the region’s homes are unoccupied – with the real figure probably higher since the borders closed in March.
The station will change hands in 2022, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of Jardine family ownership of the farm.
“The family have been on the property for 98 years so they rightfully want to make it to 100,” Bruce Wills said.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: World News Agencies