New Zealanders, foreigners offer to buy $50m 18,000ha Halfway Bay Station

New Zealanders and foreigners have submitted tender offers for the pastoral lease of an 18,000ha cattle and sheep station on the banks of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown area.

Matt Finnigan of Sotheby’s International Realty said tenders closed on Friday for Halfway Bay Station which has 7km of land on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Finnigan marketed the property jointly with Russell Reddell.

Mountains, four valleys and 23km of land on the Lochy River, renowned among rainbow trout fly fishers are hallmarks of the station which has no road access. The only way in is via a nine-minute helicopter ride from Queenstown Airport or a boat trip up Lake Wakatipu.

“It’s now a case of the owners wading through these offers, one by one,” Finnigan said. “There’s never a conclusion on day one. With any property, if it requires Overseas Investment Office consent, we’ll be having the discussion this time next year.”

In November, the Herald reported how the property was for sale.

The station borders the Eyre Mountain Conservation Park which encompasses more than 65,000ha of conservation land.

It is owned by New Zealand-born mining magnate Chris Ellison and Australian billionaire Tim Roberts but Sotheby’s said the property had not been sold on the open market for 40 years.

The Herald has reported how Roberts made a $13.9m transfer of a property, a “stunning hidden getaway” near Arrowtown, at 704 Malaghans Rd, Speargrass Flat. He transferred it out of his own name and into his company, Malaghans 704.

Due to the high sum involved, that was one of the largest transactions of 2019.

A due diligence document on the Overseas Investment Office site refers to the Crown pastoral land tenure review for Halfway Bay Station. The pre-tenure review assessment showed the land was leased for 33 years, from July 1, 1991, for an annual $4800 initially.

The lease on the 16,733ha property was reviewed in 2002, that document showed.

The station makes extensive use of the natural boundaries of the lake and river. It has steep faces and ridgelines which act as external boundaries but limited boundary fencing in the lower reaches.

Some runs on the station adjoin Allandale Station while others are adjacent to Walter Peak Station.

The OIO said that in the three months to December 31, 24 consent decisions were approved, 57 one home to live in applications were granted and 33 enforcement incidents were triggered.

“The office experienced a large spike of 18 applications in the last week of business at the end of the year. By comparison, the office normally averages three applications a week,” it said.

A review of application fee levels and the fee framework found the cost of operating the overseas investment regime was not fully recovered from fees.

One of the last measures of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act 2020 to be implemented is the new investor test which came into force this month.

The new test applies to relevant overseas persons and individuals with control, including any corporate investors. It does not apply to New Zealanders, the OIO said.

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