Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

#BuythisbeachNZ - Awaroa beach campaigner gets first look at piece of paradise

#Buythisbeachnz campaigner Duane Major, left, his friend Lincoln Churchill, middle, and brother-in-law Adam Gard'ner, right, enjoy Awaroa for the first time since the public purchase. Photo / Supplied
#Buythisbeachnz campaigner Duane Major, left, his friend Lincoln Churchill, middle, and brother-in-law Adam Gard'ner, right, enjoy Awaroa for the first time since the public purchase. Photo / Supplied

When Awaroa beach campaigner Duane Major visited the piece of paradise bought by New Zealanders for the first time since the purchase, he paused in disbelief.

The Christchurch man was shocked his dream for the pristine Abel Tasman inlet to be owned by New Zealanders had become a reality.

Major and his brother-in-law Adam Gard'ner rallied Kiwis and raised $2.26m to buy the beach he considers "heaven on earth" through Givealittle. The Government made a contribution of $350,000 at the eleventh hour, using money from the Nature Heritage Fund.

The campaign's tender was accepted on February 24, and the money changed hands on March 18.

The 800 metres of coastline was put into a temporary trust in Major and Gard'ner's names, but in about a month, it will become a part of the Abel Tasman National Park and be overseen by the Department of Conservation.

Last weekend, the men took their families to the beach to celebrate the success of the campaign.

"It was a special moment. We didn't think we'd actually get there," Major told the Herald on Sunday.

"I talked to some of the water taxi operators and they said they'd taken a lot of people there in the past month.

"It was really cool on the beach. Quite a few people said 'hey bro, I gave $10 or I gave $50'."

DOC is consulting with Major, Gard'ner, local iwi, and the Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board to work out how the land will be managed.

Major is hoping for more celebration once it officially becomes part of the national park.

"The documents had the queen's name on them because, of course, it's going to the crown. Maybe she could come.

"If she can't make it, maybe we can do some kind of storytelling campaign.

"It would be nice to also have some kind of physical monument that marks the history and landscape of the area, as well as people's generosity."

Major realised not everyone who supported the campaign would get there, but said they could rest assured the inlet would be looked after.

"It's been hugely popular with international visitors in the past but I imagine there'll now be more New Zealand visitors wanting to visit what they contributed to.

"People reckon the campaign might not have happened in another country. It's really special that this beauty spot of New Zealand will be able to be enjoyed forever.

"I'm looking forward to see how we're going to round this out with conservation; engaging local communities and bringing it to full glory."

DOC northern South Island operations director Roy Grose said the process for adding the land to the national park, including title transferring to the crown, would likely be completed in the next month or so.

What will happen to the four buildings on the inlet is a part of the negotiation process, he said.

What you need to know


• You're able to visit the beach now. It's in a remote spot so you'll need to tramp in, or get there by boat, kayak or water taxi. Accessibility from Totarnui, Kaiteriteri or Marahau.
• You can stay at DOC's Awaroa or Bark Bay huts (but will need to book months in advance), their camping grounds or the Totaranui campground.
• Awaroa will likely be officially transferred to the crown and so become a national park in the next month or so.

- NZ Herald

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