The historic Cutters Bay property in the Marlborough Sounds is on the market.
The 42-hectare Port Underwood property, one of the earliest sites of European settlement in New Zealand, and the base of two whaling stations, is being sold by tender by First National Mark Stevenson's office.
First National Mark Stevenson salesperson Mark Tschepp said the current owners had owned the land for just a few months, but were moving on to focus on other projects.
"The owners have owned the property for three months and they sold the cutting rights. They are now working with other forestry acquisitions and other projects."
The owners of the cutting rights were willing to negotiate with the new owners of Cutters Bay over whether to replant pines or regenerate native forest, Tschepp said.
He believed the privacy the section afforded meant it had the makings of a great site for a resort or a secluded home. He said he had never "seen anything like it come on the market".
"The owners and myself haven't really got a handle on where it might sit in the market . . . so we are just saying, ‘Tell us what you think'. There is nothing comparable that we can come up with a value."
In 1843, American whaling captain Daniel Dougherty set up his whaling operation and family home, with his wife Sally, at Cutters Bay. Their daughter Ellen, born there the following year, would become the world's first fully registered nurse in 1901.
The land has million-dollar views from Cloudy Bay, to the Cook Strait and across to the North Island.
Regular visitors in the mid-19th century included famed Maori warrior Te Rauparaha and Colonel William Wakefield, the leader of the first colonising expedition to New Zealand and one of the founders of Wellington.
"It is fascinating what happened there," current owner Gerard Malcolm said.
"[The Doughertys] set up their whaling station and Te Rauparaha would stop by on the way past and have a drink of rum."
Aside from piles of stone signifying old fireplaces, little remains of the original property. But just metres off its private beach are the remains of ships Alameda and Holmwood which were scuttled there in the early 1940s.
Previous archaeological investigations of the Cutters Bay land have found traces of earlier Maori occupation, as well as the property's rich whaling history.
Malcolm said Cutters Bay's proximity to the entrance of Port Underwood, and the views from its highest point, had made it a prime spot for whalers.
"They used to have someone at the top of the hill, keeping an eye out over the strait.
"When they would see one spouting, they would run back down and they would all jump in their boats and away they go."
Malcolm said there was plenty of "potential" for Cutters Bay to be transformed into a tourism operation or a private hideaway.
Tenders are being accepted on the Cutters Bay estate until July 11.
- The Marlborough Express
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