The Government has announced the $40 million purchase of spectacular high country land to guarantee public use into the future.
The purchase of the 78,196 hectare St James Station, in the central South Island, envelopes the largest Crown pastoral lease in the country.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said the purchase protected the precious land from farming and development.
"It is located on three mountain ranges, and contains the headwaters of two major Canterbury rivers, the Waiau and the Clarence. It has eleven different tramping routes, the Amuri ski field, and great mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, horse riding, and hunting opportunities," Helen Clark said.
"The property's almost untouched landscape is dominated by exceptional natural features such as glaciated valleys, glacial moraine deposits, streams, wetlands, lakes, and high altitude tarns."
The station also had a rich history to protect, including Maori access routes across the top of the South Island that ran through the station, and early European heritage sites.
The Government has bought the property from the Stevenson family, who have owned the property since 1927.
"We have long dreamed of purchasing the lease so this magnificent property could become part of the conservation estate," said Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick.
"The Government will take advice on the property's long term status. It could become either a conservation park or a national park."
A spokesperson for the Stevenson family, Mark Tavendale, said the family was pleased the Government would preserve the property's unique landscape for future generations and increase public access.
"The family was concerned that an owner other than the Crown could have had a very different set of priorities for the land."
"That could have inhibited public access and resulted in the property being developed more intensively for farming purposes, which the family is not in favour of."
The Crown will take possession of St James Station later this month.