Mahu Whenua , Central Otago. Photo courtesy of Christoph Matthaei

What is Mahu Whenua? 

Mahu Whenua is New Zealand’s largest area of private land under a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Covenant (53,000 ha). It encompasses iconic high country landscapes adjacent to rapidly expanding urban populations, and thus provides an opportunity to explore and manipulate the processes of ecological restoration in this important low alpine zone ecosystem.


Where is Mahu Whenua? 

Located in Central Otago, Mahu Whenua covers most of the country between Lake Wanaka and Arrowtown (at right of image), and is bordered by the Shotover River and the Cardrona Valley.

Situation of Mahu Whenua (shaded) looking North towards Lake Wanaka (left top) and Lake Hawea (right top). Quickbird image (Kiwimage, includes copyrighted material of DigitalGlobe, Inc, All rights Reserved) draped onto a 15-m resolution DEM. Courtesy of Pascal Sirguey, School of Surveying

Situation of Mahu Whenua (shaded) looking North towards Lake Wanaka (left top) and Lake Hawea (right top).

Quickbird image (Kiwimage, includes copyrighted material of DigitalGlobe, Inc, All rights Reserved) draped onto a 15-m resolution DEM. Courtesy of Pascal Sirguey, School of Surveying


Why is Mahu Whenua significant? 

Since the mid 1880s, the South Island high country has been modified by pastoral farming and the invasion of exotic species (e.g. wilding pines, mammalian pests), but this ecosystem is considered to have high intrinsic value. The South Island High Country Principles enshrine the protection and restoration of the natural heritage characteristics of the high country. The Mahu Whenua covenants represent New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement and is in partnership with Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. The covenants comprise one each on Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations, ensuring some 53,000 hectares of continuous high country landscape is now permanently protected for New Zealand's future generations.