Billionaire in coast dust-up

By Simon O'Rourke

The people of Hahei are worried about the possibility of an extension of a walking track to an iconic part of the Coromandel - promised by a wealthy American who is buying a $6.1 million block of pristine coastal land adjacent to it.

According to Overseas Investment Office documents, New York investment banker Gerhard Andlinger, 76, is buying 54ha of "sensitive" land at Hahei.

The billionaire has assured the office that he will improve public access for nearby tourist areas, which will include allowing a path over his land so walkers can get to Driftwood Cove, a previously inaccessible bay to the north of Cathedral Cove.

Longtime resident Jill Cameron, herself American-born, said improving access was not necessarily a good thing. "The area around Cathedral Cove is very fragile. Already we have 150,000 people a season going through there."

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