A Stratford mountain guide who fell out with the Department of Conservation has lost his house in a mortgagee sale.
Ian McAlpine, 68, battled with the Department of Conservation for more than five years over a range of issues and says the cost of this battle, along with a loss of income, meant he couldn't make his mortgage payments.
McAlpine wasn't present when his Celia St house sold at auction for $161,000 at the TET Multisports Centre last Tuesday, saying he didn't want to be present when it sold.
The loss of the house follows years of butting heads with DoC, including being prosecuted by the department twice.
Prior to falling out with authorities McAlpine owned his own business, Mt Taranaki Guided Walks, and said he did well for many years, earning an average of $45,000 a year.
He began guiding people on and up Mt Taranaki in 1993 and climbed the mountain more than 1850 times.
McAlpine said the terrain changed in 2012 when the Conservation Department introduced new rules, requiring guides to provide safety plans.
He claimed it took him time to find an auditor to do the plan and meanwhile lost out on work. With the lack of income, he was unable to pay DoC some $1100 in permit fees and his guiding licence was cancelled in 2014.
In 2015, it was reported DoC had two people pose as tourists and engage McAlpine for a nine-hour tramp around Mt Taranaki.
He was convicted and discharged without further penalty in the New Plymouth District Court in January 2016.
In June last year however, he was convicted again after taking three tourists on a six-hour tramp up Mt Taranaki on May 12, 2016.
McAlpine said his guiding concession for the mountain was cancelled by the Department of Conservation for non-payment, leaving him unable to earn an income. This happened, he says, despite him eventually paying the money owed.
He said he had battled the department over the issue for years, and his health had suffered from the stress and led to financial struggles.
His pension was not enough to cover his repayments on the house.
"There wasn't enough to pay the mortgage and it just snowballed really."
McAlpine has started packing up his many books and belongings to be out by the end of the month and said he would be looking to Housing New Zealand to find a new place to live.
"It's pretty amazing this all started because of standover tactics by government bureaucrats over $1100.
"I would just like to say, because of that decision back in November 2014, it may have cost me my home but it has cost the Department of Conservation many hours and money which should have been spent on conservation."
McAlpine said he took some small comfort in knowing his house sold at market value.
He said he paid $45,000 for the Celia St house which he described as the perfect place to live because it was central and had a great view of the mountain.
Having bought the house in 2001, McAlppine said he was emotional to be forced to leave the home he worked hard establishing the gardens in. He said he had done work to the three bedroom 1900s house over the years, putting up native timber panelling and making it into a home he enjoys spending time in.
"I should be enjoying it in my retirement."
The Department of Conservation was approached for comment but declined to do so.