Bidders get site, blind get the money

A Dunedin couple bid just shy of $500,000 yesterday for an Arrowtown house that was left to the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

Verona Mary McGregor of Arrowtown bequeathed most of her estate to charities, specifying that her three-bedroom Cardigan St house would go to the foundation's guide dog programme.

She was a descendant of the McGregor family who owned Dunedin-based John McGregor & Co, which built the TSS Earnslaw steamship in 1912.

Her estate was bequeathed to 17 charities and her home, which had a rateable value of $435,000, was sold at auction to Dunedin couple Jeff and Liz Dickie for $499,000.

They plan to use the weatherboard property in the town's historic precinct as a holiday home.

Bidding opened at $300,000, quickly rising to $450,000 then $490,000, $495,000 and a last-minute bid of $497,000 before the closing call for the Dickies' $499,000.

Mrs Dickie said the couple and their children were keen to get back to Arrowtown, where the family spent considerable time on holiday.

Her husband said there was enough spirited bidding towards the end of the auction to affirm the price.

"Liz and I have eyeballed Arrowtown . . . It's brilliant for the foundation, it's a worthwhile cause."

Bayleys Queenstown sales agent Katharine Tomlinson, who marketed the home, said the property was a quintessential Arrowtown crib.

The reserve price remained confidential but 1970s-era properties in the precinct sold for between $385,000 and $420,000 recently.

"It's a brilliant result for the foundation," she said.

Auctioneer David Murray said it was first time in 25 years of wielding the hammer that he could remember a house bequeathed to the charity.

"They will be absolutely thrilled. That's the best bidding experience I have had in the last three years. It's quite heartening and ticked all the boxes."

The Southland Times