Super rich Americans buying land in New Zealand as 'bolthole' from apocalypse

Looking towards Queenstown from the Crown Range.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Looking towards Queenstown from the Crown Range.

Wealthy Americans buying property in New Zealand see the country as a "bolthole" in the event of a catastrophe, a Queenstown real estate executive says.

Bayleys Queenstown executive director Stacy Coburn says Silicon Valley bosses and US hedge fund managers are buying property in the South Island as a safe place to hide in the event of a major terror attack.

"Queenstown is seen as a bolthole for the future if things do turn to the worse in the world," he said.

Looking towards Queenstown and Lake Wakitipu from the skyline gondola.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Looking towards Queenstown and Lake Wakitipu from the skyline gondola.

"Given what has been happening around the States, they want the ability to come down here and get away from all that. Some have touched on the fact they feel that something may happen and if it does happen, but hopefully it won't, they will be in a more stable environment without the same security fears.

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"We are seeing more Americans and I suspect that will increase given what we provide in New Zealand and Queenstown in terms of a safe environment and a neutral government."

The shores of Lake Wakitipu.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The shores of Lake Wakitipu.

The trend for wealthy Americans investing in Kiwi property as "apocalypse insurance" was investigated by the New Yorker magazine. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told the US magazine that "New Zealand" has become a code word for apocalypse preparedness among Silicon Valley leaders.

Luxury house builder Peter Campbell, of Triple Star Management, said he had seen the number of wealthy Americans commissioning new homes in the South Island grow since the global financial crisis in 2008.

His company builds luxury homes in the Wanaka and Queenstown area and has wealthy American, European and Australian clients. The construction budgets for the homes range from $4.5 million to $18m and vary in size from 750 to 1500 square metres, he said.

Tourists on the shore of Lake Wanaka.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Tourists on the shore of Lake Wanaka.

He said the company was usually building about three or four homes at any given time.

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"[Overseas clients] would represent about 50 per cent of our business. A lot of our projects are for overseas based clients.

"They don't talk extensively about [why they are building here], but there is a common thread that they see New Zealand as remote and secure, but very much a first world offering.

"It is an island and remote, but easy to get to."

The American clients wanted to make sure their Kiwi refuges were self sufficient, he said.

"They all seem interested in solar power and having the ability to have their properties generate their own energy requirements.

"That is quite common and seems to be consistent among most Americans."

He said it was also an attraction that the region was many metres above sea level, so was protected from predicted sea level rises related to climate change.

 - Stuff

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