Billionaire Peter Thiel's Wānaka luxury lodge proposal 'inappropriate' in natural landscape

Peter Thiel's proposed Wanaka guest lodge has been designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architects Kengo Kuma and Associates.
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Peter Thiel's proposed Wanaka guest lodge has been designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architects Kengo Kuma and Associates.

Environmental groups are objecting to billionaire Peter Thiel’s proposed Wānaka lodge, which they say will be highly visible in a protected natural landscape.

PayPal co-founder Thiel’s company Second Star Ltd has lodged plans with the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) for a series of buildings on a 193-hectare site owned by Thiel at Damper Bay, near Wānaka.

They detail 10 rooms to accommodate 24 guests and room for six people in a separate owner’s pod.

The plans were publicly notified and attracted six submissions, three in opposition and three seeking changes.

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Entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, wants to build his lodge on the shore of Lake Wānaka.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, wants to build his lodge on the shore of Lake Wānaka.

The Upper Clutha Environmental Society submission says the proposal does not protect the natural values of the site.

“The development is likely to cause significant adverse physical changes to the appearance of the natural landscape when viewed from public places in the vicinity including from Mount Aspiring Road, the Te Araroa Track, Lake Wānaka and the Roy’s Peak track,” it says.

“People driving, riding, walking, paddling or boating in these highly frequented public locations will be assailed by a large number of buildings spread laterally across the subject site.”

The Environmental Defence Society and Longview Environmental Trust held similar views.

An aerial view of Peter Thiel's proposed lodge, looking towards Lake Wānaka.
Supplied
An aerial view of Peter Thiel's proposed lodge, looking towards Lake Wānaka.

Near by landowner John May, who established the Longview Educational Trust, said the location of the proposed lodge on a prominent slope within an outstanding natural landscape was inappropriate as it would be highly visible from locations.

“No level of mitigation can satisfactorily reduce the level of adverse effects that will be created.”

The Guardians of Lake Wānaka requested conditions be put on the resource consent, including the prevention of sewage or wastewater entering the lake, no contaminated stormwater run-off, no toxins and monitoring of farmed animal bacterial contamination and nutrient levels.

Brook Sabin
It's home to wētā that can survive being frozen over winter and the rare buff weka.

“We recommend that in consultation with Otago Regional Council and QLDC, the applicant arrange(s) for baseline lake water quality measures.”

The Upper Clutha Tracks Trust has requested that the company either realigns the difficult Glendhu Bay Track, which crosses the property, or provides direct access to Damper Bay.

“Damper Bay has long been a local favourite spot for swimming or picnics but has only been easily accessible by boat, with the only other option being an 8.6km return walk.”