By PHILIP CHANDLER
An Environment Court judge this week green-lit two major golf resort zones near Arrowtown.
Judge John Hassan has allowed local tourism magnate Sir John Davies’ family to develop their proposed Hogans Gully golf resort, which Queenstown’s council originally refused to rezone.
Along with an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Arrowtown-based ex-pro Greg Turner, and other amenities, there’s provision for 60 residential and 16 visitor accommodation units.
Through another consent order, Hassan has also resort- zoned jeweller Sir Michael Hills’
golf course, The Hills — again, this comes after initial opposition from the council.
The new zoning allows up to 66 residential and 84 visitor accommodation units, though only in carefully-selected areas.
Davies’ son Mike, who’s spearheading the Hogans Gully project, says ‘‘it’s been a five-year exercise, and we’re pretty excited where we’ve ended up’’.
‘‘There were speed humps along the way, where we could have pulled pin, but at the end of the day, grit and determination got us there.’’
Developer: ‘Golf course resort a win-win’
Through mediation, he says both his and council’s sides made concessions — they’d originally proposed 91 accommodation units, for example.
‘‘It’s a win-win for both of us.’’
High-spending golfers are the kind of visitors Queenstown and Wānaka want, Davies says,
‘‘rather than mass tourism’’.
‘‘In Covid times, we’ve had two rough years in Queenstown … this will take four or five years to develop, it’s good for the area.’’
He says he’ll know when work will start by early next year.
As part of the consent, the developer’s agreed, in consultation with the Queenstown Trails
Trust, to put a walking/cycling trail around the resort.
Hassan’s court order notes buildings will be put in the upper terraces of the site, where they’re not visible from State Highway 6, Hogans Gully Road or McDonnell Rd.
Local Baxter Design Group owner Paddy Baxter, who masterplanned the resort, says ‘‘the fundamental, underlying principle was the protection of the rural values’’.
He notes features of the design, setting it apart from other golf course resorts, are 43 hectares of ecological revegetation, and low building heights.
The clubhouse, designed by Auckland architect Andrew Patterson, who also designed
The Hills’ clubhouse, resembles a low farm wall.
The Hills resort a ‘landscape-led process’
Emma Hill, whose parents have owned The Hills since the ’90s, is delighted her family’s property — which these days includes a championship golf course, sculpture park and upmarket lodge — now has ‘resort zone’ status.
‘‘It’s a natural progression … for all intents and purposes, The Hills is presently a resort,
it’s not rural in character.’’
It’s been a landscape-led process, Hill says.
‘Activity areas’ for up to 66 residential and 84 visitor accommodation units ‘‘have been identified in areas that are visually discreet, and development in them will respond to the land form, similar to how the existing clubhouse and family home do now’’.
‘‘We wanted to ensure the extraordinary landscape is protected, and that when you walk the fairways or you’re viewing the course, it looks much like it does today.’’
The resort zone ‘‘ensures in perpetuity that 95% of the land remains as green, open
space, maintained to a beautiful standard’’.
They’ve yet to set a time table for developing accommodation.