Lake Pukaki site price 'a surprise'
Something special to come on landMATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
The Ashburton farmer who purchased the 19-hectare Lake Pukaki site formerly earmarked for a village wants to do something special with it, but he is not sure what yet.
It's a site with arguably one of the best views in the country, looking up Lake Pukaki to Aoraki-Mt Cook.
David Fisher, who bought the site for $1.2 million at a public auction on September 5, does not have a specific plan for the land but said it needed to be something special.
"I'm not into this corrugated iron stuff. I want something that looks right. There's an opportunity for a whole lot of things, you could have a good restaurant, and some proper class accommodation."
Mr Fisher was surprised at the purchase price.
"I thought I got it for pretty bloody cheap, to be honest. I expected it to go for twice that," he said.
"I got the call from someone, and I felt I should check the site out [before the auction]. Unfortunately, it was about minus 12 degrees and covered in snow, jeez it was bloody freezing.
"I know the area, pretty well. We have a little property nearby the site, which we occasionally rent out."
The 19.3ha site is 14 kilometres north of Twizel. It was put up for sale by 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.
The Mackenzie District Council has zoned the land as special purpose, which allowed for a tourist and holiday village for up to 1000 people.
Planning manager Nathan Hole has said although the owner would still need to apply for building consents, these would be approved as long as the development complemented the surrounding environment.
The biggest challenge would be establishing a reticulated sewerage system, and ensuring access to power, he said.
Mr Fisher said there was an opportunity to cater for the upper market.
"You've got that 0.1 per cent, they're wanting something a bit classier, they don't want your rickety $140-per-night motel," he said.
"With those views, you could really bring them here. It's just a shame nothing has been done with the place for so long."
Mr Fisher moved to New Zealand from Australia in the late 1980s. However, he acknowledged developing the Lake Pukaki site would be his biggest project.
"Farming's in my blood, it's been my livelihood. But it shouldn't stop me doing new things," he said.
"I'm a farmer, not a developer. But I will talk to some people, there's plenty of ideas in my head for this."
- © Fairfax NZ News