Auckland's public space has just grown by 95ha, with a $12 million purchase effectively doubling the size of idyllic Mahurangi East Regional Park.
The purchase gives the public access to bays, inlets and the ridged peninsula of the Mahurangi Harbour as well as, for the first time, land access to the existing park on the peninsula.
Development options for the new land included mountain biking and walking trails, camping and bach accommodation, but keeping the same wilderness experience of other regional parks.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff described it as "one of the biggest additions in years" – and acknowledged the support of the John Turnbull and Margaret Turnbull Trusts, which put up nearly half of the $11,750,000 purchase price.
Councillor Alf Filipaina, chair of the Auckland Council's Parks, Arts, Culture and Events Committee, said park acquisition of this scale was not often seen, given the price tag of quality land – often coastal – that meets the council's criteria.
"The benefits this property offers, in terms of recreational opportunities and protecting open space, made it a high priority for acquisition."
Auckland Council currently owned and managed 27 regional parks across the Auckland region, totalling more than 40,000ha.
"Like additions to the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park and Te Rau Puriri Regional Park in recent years, this acquisition adds to land already owned by the council, effectively doubling Mahurangi East Regional Park in size," Filipaina said.
Greg Sayers, councillor for Rodney Ward, said Rodney's regional parks were a special feature of the northern part of the region.
"Rodney is blessed with a fine selection of regional parks and visitors to this area are spoilt for choice with Te Ārai, Pākiri, Tāwharanui, Scandrett and Mahurangi forming stepping stones along our north eastern coastline," he said.
"They are extremely popular spots, too, with campgrounds booked out throughout summer, baches firm family favourites and the tracks and trails heavily used.
"Given the projected growth in our area, we know that having more open space will be welcome."
The council's parks portfolio holder, Christine Fletcher, noted the land's conservation value.
"This property is noted as having outstanding natural landscape and natural character values that we can enhance with dedicated conservation work over the coming decades," Fletcher said.
"The proximity to our Hauraki Gulf islands and jewels like the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary, connected by local parks and reserves, and people's back yards, makes the opportunities limitless."
Development of this parkland will require a management plan and options will be canvassed with the public.
Access roads, and basic infrastructure like fencing, signage and toilets, will need to be installed before the parkland can be opened to the public. No dates for a public opening have been confirmed.