Hunter Valley access documented

Photo: Hunter Valley Access on Facebook


The Hunter Valley road has had its fair share of limelight recently as rumours circulate as to what type of access will be granted on the 40km section of road.

The Hunter River flows 42km from the Main Divide of the Southern Alps into the head of Lake Hawea. The river’s headwaters are part of Hawea Conservation Park but the lower area, which is part of Hunter Valley Station, lies on land leased by American Matt Lauer.

The Federated Mountain Club has recently set up a Hunter Valley Access Facebook page to encourage the public to document their inquiries to access the Hunter Valley and to post the nature and the outcome on its social media page.

The club encourages its members to contact the Cochranes who manage the Station. The Cochrane family, who took over the pastoral lease in the 1970s, has stated that they have shared the environment of the station with the public for more than 25 years, and that the station’s sale to Matt Lauer would continue to favour public access.

There is no public road access to the upper Hunter Valley through either Dingleburn Station or the Hunter Valley Station. The farm is long and narrow, due to the lake being raised by 20m in 1958, which in turn flooded the good farmland. If a road was to go through it would close off all of the farming land according to Hannah Cochrane.

The Wanaka Sun spoke to Hannah via phone on Tuesday, July 31.

Hannah said she hated answering the question of ‘should the public be given unrestricted access?’ but she continued: “I think it has got to be managed by us who knows the farming operations and the land.

“It’s been like this for 40 years. You know, the valley is beautiful the way it is because it has been managed for that long.”

Over the last year, the Cochranes have received over 100 phone calls to request access the valley and stated that only three or four of those requests had to be changed to a different time or date, due to farming operations or the people driving the wrong vehicle. The figure does not including those wanting to bike to Kidds Bush.

Hannah said they have asked FMC for the details of people who say they have been denied access but no one has been able to offer names of who or when.

The Cochranes also run a tourism business which offers people the opportunity to stay in the farm huts to fish and holiday. Their guests are required to sign health and safety forms, and forms stating that they have the appropriate vehicle, conditions are good and no farming operations are ongoing. They also take next of kin contact details as there is no mobile reception up at the Hunter Valley.

Photo: Hunter Valley Access on Facebook

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