Public access to Matt Lauer's Hunter Valley Station granted

Disgraced US television host Matt Lauer has granted more public access onto his Central Otago high country station.

An agreement outlining the public access through the property has been signed by the Department of Conservation and Orange Lakes (NZ) Limited, the company Mr Lauer is a director off.

Mr Lauer bought Hunter Valley Station on the northern side of Lake Hawea in 2017. 

He passed the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) good character test, despite his employment as a presenter on NBC's Today Show being terminated after allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Over the past month DOC, Land Information NZ (LINZ) and the Orange Lakes Limited, the company Mr Lauer directs, have been working together to clarify public access across the station, which borders both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, making it largest lakefront property in New Zealand.

Under the agreement, up to six 4WD vehicles per day have been granted access to Hunter Valley Station farm track between December and April.  

During the winter period public access for 4WD vehicles will be 'generally unavailable' due to the conditions.

Mountain bike, foot and horse access will be available year-round, outside of a closure for lambing between October and December.

Public access will be available by using the farm track. However one condition within the agreement includes a $35 fee charged per vehicle to help contribute to the maintenance of the private farm track.

Previous public access for walking, horse riding and biking to the Hunter River Valley continues to be available via a 32-kilometre track from the Dingle Burn car park on the eastern side of Lake Hāwea.

The agreement gave a clear outline of the access to the station, DoC Central Otago Operations Manager Mike Tubbs says.

Orange Lakes Director and lawyer Graeme Todd says has seen no evidence of people being unreasonably denied access to the station since it was taken over last year. 

"We agreed it wouldn't hurt for there to be more clarity around what access had been given since Orange Lakes took ownership, how access could be arranged and the terms upon which it would be granted."

The Walking Access Commission has agreed to put its application for an easement on the Hunter Valley Station farm track, which had previously been lodged with the Commissioner for Crown Lands.