A tenure review agreement has been reached for the North Canterbury high country station, Island Hills.

Tenure review is a voluntary process that gives pastoral lessees an opportunity to buy some of their leasehold land from the Crown.

The rest of the land, usually areas of high ecological value, returns to full Crown ownership for conservation purposes.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) said 1600 hectares would be transferred to the Crown as conservation estate and 3200 will be freehold subject to conservation covenants, that restricts activities such as grazing, vegetation clearance and burning.


The remaining 200 hectares would be freehold without restrictions.

"Public access rights to the land and surrounding areas have also been secured, including access through Island Hills to Lake Sumner Forest Park" said LINZ Deputy Chief Executive Crown Property Jerome Sheppard.

The Department of Conservation would manage the conservation land, which features mature forest and a mountain range, and is home to native lizards, fish, insects and birds such as the New Zealand falcon/kārearea and black shag/kawau.

Island Hills entered tenure review in 2011 and a preliminary proposal was publicly advertised in 2016.

Seven submissions were received, with most supportive of the proposal.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage announced plans to axe tenure review earlier this year, saying "it's vital we ensure that our high-country pastoral leases are managed in the best interests of all New Zealanders, now and into the future".

However, Sheppard said until changes were made to the Crown Pastoral Land Act, tenure review was ongoing.

"While the government has decided to end tenure review, the process won't stop until legislation is passed in Parliament, which we expect to happen in this term of government.


"Until then the Commissioner of Crown Lands is legally required to continue to carry out reviews. Only reviews that have an agreed substantive proposal when the new legislation is passed will be completed," he said.

There are currently 30 properties in the tenure review process.