Outdoor clubs want public access to US broadcaster Matt Lauer's NZ property

Hunter Valley Station on Lake Hāwea (Supplied)
Hunter Valley Station on Lake Hāwea (Supplied)

Outdoor enthusiasts have called on US broadcaster Matt Lauer to allow public access on the large New Zealand high country station he's just bought.

Mr Lauer, journalist and host of NBC's Today Show, has bought the $13 million, 6468ha Hunter Valley Station on Lake Hāwea after being given the green light by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

Matt Lauer spoke highly of New Zealand in a late-night TV interview (Getty)
Matt Lauer spoke highly of New Zealand in a late-night TV interview (Getty)

The station had been leased by the Crown to the Cochrane family for more than 40 years.

Now that the land is in new hands, the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) wants to restart negotiations to allow public access.

"Federated Mountain Clubs welcomes Mr Lauer and his family to New Zealand. They have made a wise choice; however, we also invite them to recognise and participate in the high country tradition of hospitality, appropriate provision of public access and care for the land," the group said in a statement.

FMC says it entered talks with Mr Lauer's agents prior to the sale, and 20,000-plus members it represents aren't happy with the OIO's conditions on public access.

It says only two of nine recommendations put forward by the Walking Access Commission were included.

"We regret that the OIO has served him so poorly, with a decision which if not resolved promptly could cause considerable public controversy in an election year."

The group has set a bottom line of a walkway easement, managed by the Department of Conservation, along the existing road through Hunter Valley Station to the conservation land at the head of Lake Hāwea and beyond.

The FMC is a national association of more than 80 tramping and mountain climbing clubs.

In April 2016, Mr Lauer told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon of his love of New Zealand.

"Have you ever been to New Zealand? It is the most sensational country on the planet, in my opinion. It's beautiful."