Campaigners are celebrating their latest victory in a long-running battle to preserve a world-famous Coromandel summer destination, with a public-backed charity buying the northern headland of New Chum Beach for $2.15m.
The sale of the 30ha piece of land in Wainuiototo Bay to the New Zealand Coastal Trust means the area will be protected from development.
The property was sold by tender by Colliers on behalf of receivers appointed by the Bank of New Zealand after the former owner, Galt Nominees, itself owned by businessman George Kerr, defaulted on a mortgage.
"This is a great day for all who love this wonderful, beautiful and iconic place," said Linda Cholmondeley Smith, of Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc.
"In under four weeks we have managed to raise the funds to purchase the 30ha of the northern headland at New Chum/ Wainuiototo and protect it forever.
"We cannot thank enough the many people across the country and overseas, who contributed."
With public backing - including support from partner groups, the local community, and donations made to a Givealittle page – the trust was able to stump up an unconditional offer of more than $2m.
"Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc has been working since 2010 to protect the beach landscape but the headland purchase could not have happened without the combined efforts of several groups."
Cholmondeley Smith singled out the support of the Whangapoua Ratepayers Association, mana whenua and the Environmental Defence Society.
She also paid tribute to the late Ngati Hei kaumatua Peter Tiki Johnston, who shared the view that Wainuiototo should be preserved for every New Zealander to enjoy.
In its sale listing, the land was described by Colliers as having an approximate 1km-long eastern boundary adjoining the recreational reserve beside the foreshore.
"About 200m of this boundary offers frontage to the world-famous New Chum beach," it said.
"The remaining part of the idyllic horseshoe-shaped bay is sheltered to the north by its rocky coastline."
The Bank of New Zealand called for the mortgagee sale as part of a range of moves on Kerr-related companies.
Groups involved with the winning bid were due to meet in the New Year to determine how the headland would be governed.
In the meantime, the trust was still fundraising to help secure land behind the beach, which was still under threat from development.
The beach was featured in The Observers' list of the world's top 20 deserted beaches in 2006. It has been highly rated by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.
When the development of the land was proposed more than a decade ago, the plans met a fierce backlash from thousands of beachgoers, among them TV host Phil Keoghan, rugby star Richard Kahui and actress Robyn Malcolm.
In 2010, the Herald reported how the director-general of conservation, the Historic Places Trust and then-Labour leader Phil Goff joined a chorus of opposition against rich-listers building houses on an untouched Coromandel beach.
The scheme back then was for 20 residential units has been put forward by developers John Darby and Kerr.
A spokesman for the developers said in 2010 they were talking to the Environmental Defence Society and looking at all options.
Goff then wanted the Government to buy the land.
"The bottom line has to be the preservation forever of the unspoilt and untouched nature of the beach. There is no place for development on, near or in sight of the beach," he said at the time.
"The best guarantee of preserving New Chum is purchased by the Government and its inclusion in the conservation estate. I understand that the current private owners are prepared to negotiate and it is important that the Minister of Conservation acts as an advocate for her portfolio in this area," Goff said in 2010.
In 2015, a new scheme emerged.
That was for a 60.7ha lot which Ross and Deidre Mear jointly owned with Kerr, and is separate from a development application made in 2014 by Coastal Land Trust Holdings.