New Zealand outdoor groups are welcoming plans by a private trust to save an iconic Northland beach from development and create a multi-day tramping track down the east coast.
Earlier this week the Advocate revealed the Ipipiri Nature Conservancy Trust was making a final push to raise $9.3 million to buy the 700ha Elliot Farm between Russell and Ōakura.
Trustee Geoff Rickets said he wanted to avert the ''tragedy'' of the farm, which includes two unspoiled surf beaches and 500ha of native bush, being carved up for luxury holiday homes.
Any development could also spell an end to public access to Elliot Bay, which has been enjoyed by surfers and holidaymakers since the 1930s.
The trust also plans a multi-day track to Great Walk standards linking Cape Brett, Whangamumu Bay, and Russell Forest.
At present the northernmost Great Walk is Lake Waikaremoana in the Urewera Ranges.
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The walkway proposal has been welcomed by Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, which represents more than 110 tramping, climbing, skiing and other outdoor recreation groups.
President Jan Finlayson said the Elliot Bay proposal was a ''great initiative in a great part of the world'' that had so far missed out on Great Walks.
It was also a chance to look after the land, foster back-to-basic recreation, and encourage Kiwi families, school groups and beginner trampers into the outdoors.
''It will pull together a lot of iconic Aotearoa — rugged coastal land, beautiful beaches, farming country and kauri forests. I think it'll be a great unifying force for the community and I wish them all the best,'' she said.
Meanwhile, DoC senior visitor adviser Karly Bent said the department had been working with the Ipipiri Nature Conservancy Trust, 3B2 Trust, various hapū, the Walking Access Commission, the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, the Far North District Council and Northland Inc.
''The conversations have been well attended and everyone has been excited about the opportunity it could provide for the area and its people from a conservation, tourism and economic perspective.''
Developing a multi-day walk required a number of steps first, such as analysing visitor demand, capability building, infrastructure development and building community support.
In the meantime DoC was encouraging a staged approach. Phase one could be a day-walk from Rawhiti to Elliot Bay via Whangamumu, she said.
Last year DoC announced it was planning to create an 11th Great Walk by upgrading an existing trail. Northland's Te Paki Coastal Trail around Cape Reinga made the shortlist but was beaten by Hump Ridge in Southland.