The Government has purchased the St James high country station in north Canterbury for $40 million.
The 78,000-hectare property is home to 430 varities of native plant life and 30 species of native birds.
The station has been owned since 1927 by the Stevenson family, who approached the Crown when they decided to sell.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says both the Stevenson family and the Government are happy with the deal.
She says Crown ownership will open the station to recreational users and boost Hanmer Springs as a tourist destination.
The Department of Conservation says St James station is the jewel in the crown of the South Island high country and the purchase ensures access for all New Zealanders in the future.