A slice of land on the shores of Lake Pukaki, with spectacular views of the Southern Alps, which was once earmarked for a new township, has sold for $1.2 million.
Bayleys Christchurch auction head Fiona Kristensen said three bidders yesterday, all from the South Island, "battled for ownership" of the 19.3-hectare site, making a total of 31 bids.
The owners are Ashburton farmers who left the auction rooms saying "we'll have to decide what we want to do with it now", Ms Kristensen said. The buyers had first seen the land only the previous day, under snow.
The site was put up for sale by local owners the Aoraki Land Trust, which never followed through with development plans after buying it from Crown entity Landcorp in the 1990s.
The Government had intended to create a township on the Pukaki site when the Upper Waitaki hydro project ended, but the bulldozing of the construction town of Twizel was abandoned after local opposition, and plans for the Pukaki township were dropped.
Twizel resident Rick Ramsay yesterday said the sale was good news for the region.
"To be honest, $1.2m does sound relatively cheap, considering the nature of the site," he said.
"It's already zoned for special purpose. The buyer would not have to go through the consenting hurdles. It's pretty much set up."
Mr Ramsay was project information officer for the Ministry of Works during the hydro development years.
He did not think Twizel remaining a town had been a barrier to development of the site.
"I thought something could have happened during the development boom in Tekapo and Twizel in the early 2000s, but it's good something is going ahead," Mr Ramsay said.
The owner of Twizel's Mountain Chalets, Kyle Purton, was surprised to hear the buyers were farmers.
"The site has some of the most spectacular views in the country. It needs someone with a vision. You could really create something quite special for tourists. I just don't want anything ho-hum," Mr Purton said.
Mackenzie district planning manager Nathan Hole said the land had a special purpose zone that allowed for a tourist and holiday village with a maximum capacity of 1000 people.
"The zoning allows the purchaser a reasonable amount of discretion," he said. "It's good it's been purchased as one block . . . hopefully the development will be integrated and not piecemeal."
Mr Hole said the biggest challenge would be establishing a reticulated sewerage system, and ensuring access to power. The site allowed for a range of activities.
However, Mr Hole said the spectacular view of Aoraki-Mt Cook would "always be protected" because nothing would be built between State Highway 8 and the lake shore.
- © Fairfax NZ News