A New Zealand man whose ambitious crowdfunding campaign raised millions of dollars to buy a pristine South Island beach and make it public parkland said Monday it was “surreal” to see his dream realised.
Duane Major’s push earlier this year to take Awaroa beach out of private hands and make it a national park quickly went viral, attracting 40,000 donations to raise a total of NZ$2.3 million (£1.31 million).
Major, a pastor who describes himself as “an ordinary bloke”, was present when the beach was officially incorporated into the Abel Tasman National Park at a Maori ceremony on Sunday.
Major told TV3 on Monday, “I must say, it might have been the wind, but I might have squeezed out a wee tear or two”.
Awaroa inlet is an 800-metre (2,600-foot) stretch of golden sand at the top of South Island.
Accessible only by boat or helicopter, it came on the market late last year, with real estate agents marketing it as “the best beach on the planet”.
Major said, “We just gave it a shot”.
He added, “We didn’t know how it would pan out and the magical experience it’s been, it was kind of surreal.”
It was the largest crowdfunding effort ever facilitated by website “Givealittle”, with donations ranging from children pledging a dollar to corporations giving tens of thousands.