Crowdfunding has become a great way to raise money to launch a new product, expand a small business, and now, New Zealanders have demonstrated another cool application: preserving public access to beaches. Members of the public created a crowdfunding campaign to purchase a 17-acre plot of private beach land, and they managed to raise an impressive $1.7 million in the process. Around 40,000 contributors pitched in, including a $254,000 investment from the local government to seal the deal, to purchase the land known as Awaroa beach on the north coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

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Awaroa beach was previously owned by Michael Spackman, a private businessman. He bought the land in 2008 for $1.4 million and had allowed the public to use it, including the half-mile of pristine beachfront, since the beginning. Financial need motivated Spackman to put the land on the market earlier this year, though, and members of the public feared that the beach’s new owner might not have the same philosophy about public access. This concern inspired Duane Major to begin a movement to save the beach and, as modern movements go, crowdfunding became the answer. The campaign closed in February, having raised enough funds to buy the property from Spackman.

Related: Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

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Purchasing the beach with crowdsourced funds made it possible for Awaroa beach to become part of Abel Tasman National Park, which means it will be open to the public and protected for years to come. This counts as good news for the indigenous Maoris, who are particularly interested in protecting the land as it contains native burial grounds. Some locals pushed for the beach property to be handed over fully to the Maori people, but ultimately it was agreed that the beach will be open to the general public and that the national parks program will find “ways to involve local Maori youth in the management of the land.”

The property is not accessible by vehicle and its remote location and limited access help ensure that it will remain “a remarkable seven-hectare utopia,” as it was described in the real estate listing.

Via Fast Company

Images via Bayleys