One of Queenstown’s newest residents is an Aussie jet-set multi-millionaire. He tells Paul Taylor why he’s chosen to relocate here
Queenstown’s developing a reputation as a doomsday hideaway for the super-rich.
But an uber-wealthy Australian says he’s snapped up 12 hectares of prime real estate to build a life here.
Tim Roberts, one of three heirs to a family fortune worth an estimated $2 billion, lives in Perth but is no stranger to the resort.
It’s the combination of the great outdoors and fun-filled skies that have convinced him to relocate over the ditch.
“It’s an extraordinary lifestyle you have in New Zealand,” the 46-year-old says.
“I’ve been coming over regularly for years. Queenstown’s a unique part of the world and I have lots of friends there.
“So with what it can offer, if you talk about mountain biking, adventure, outdoors and aviation, I’m now choosing to make it my home.”
The resort does seem made for Roberts.
He’s the veteran of 18 Avon Descents, a two-day 124km white water race in Western Australia, seven 20km solo Rottnest Channel ocean swims, and various ironman races, surf life saving events, marathons and triathlons.
He’s also obsessed with flying.
“I acquired my pilot’s licence, both fixed and rotary, at the age of 17,” he says.
He’s gone on to get his airline pilot’s licence and pilots both his Global 6000 Jet – worth north of $60 million – and a $6m Bell 429 helicopter.
Roberts’ father John established construction contractor Multiplex Pty Ltd in Perth in 1962.
It grew to become Australia’s largest privately-owned company, before listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2003.
Tim Roberts was executive director from 2003 to 2007, playing a key role as it diversified into property and investment.
(Although it also coincided with the disastrous Wembley Stadium saga. Multiplex said it could build the London sports facility for almost two years behind schedule for world’s most expensive sports stadium.)
Multiplex was taken over by Canadian property developer Brookfield Asset Management in 2007, a year after the death of Roberts’ father John.
The $A7.3b deal reportedly netted Roberts, his brother Andrew and sister Denby $A1.1b.
Since then, Roberts has continued to invest in everything from property to aqua-culture, healthcare and pathology.
He intends to invest in NZ entities once here.
He’s also a board member for a casino and hotel company, a mining company and various charities.
All that’s given him the means to splash $4.2m on 12 hectares in Speargrass Flat, near Arrowtown.
The Overseas Investment Office approved the freehold sale of the sensitive land in February.
Roberts: “It’s a very humble-type property – with the market as it is there it’s difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for.
“I’m looking to find somewhere else [in Queenstown] to build a place.
“But this is certainly something for me to move into and get established in the town.”
He plans to complete the move within the next few months.
“I’m very excited about it.
“One of the key things I want to do is to be an active member of the community – not only through clubs and the like but also philanthropic endeavours.
“I’ve been doing that in Perth and Australia and want to carry on in Queenstown and NZ, make a difference in people’s lives.”
Philanthropic organisation Tim Roberts Giving has donated $A20m to various charities over the last five years.
Principally, they are the Children’s Telethon Institute, Perth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Life Saving Society of Australia and the North Cottesloe Surf Club.
“It’s very structured,” Roberts says.
“I want to understand what the needs are and where I can make a difference.”
He also enjoys a party, hitting the headlines in 2015 after English rocker Billy Idol played his Black Friday-themed party in North Freemantle.
There were also reports Tom Cruise once stayed on his yacht.
Roberts says they’re untrue, sadly.