More Matakauri, more celebs


Queenstown’s swanky Matakauri Lodge is primed for expansion.

The upmarket Glenorchy Road lodge - which regularly hosts celebrities such as British royals William and Kate - is in line for a zone change allowing additional development.

As part of Queenstown council’s district plan review, officials are recommending Matakauri’s “rural lifestyle” zoning should be reclassified as a “visitor accommodation sub-zone”.

The change would permit Matakauri to put up an extra 576sq m of new buildings on its 3.9 hectare site - an increase of 30 per cent on existing buildings.

Consents presently limit guest numbers to 32 people, a council report says.

Matakauri’s extra building space would equate to almost three times the size of the average new Kiwi home.

The Queenstown lodge was bought in 2009 by the family of billionaire US philanthropist and former hedge fund boss Julian Robertson, now aged 82.

The family also owns two other luxury lodges in New Zealand - Northland’s Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay.

Peak season rates at Matakauri run from $1840 for two per night – the four-bedroom “owner’s cottage” is listed at $16,000 nightly.

Council officials say the existing zoning cramps Matakauri’s style.

“The rural lifestyle zoning and its purpose is not reflective of the visitor accommodation character and built form present on the Matakauri site,” they say.

“As a result alterations to or expansion of the operation is uncertain and makes planning for further investment challenging.”

The zone switch will “provide certainty for planning of future investment in the site and Matakauri [itself]”, the evaluation report says.

Officials reckon a 500sq m “footprint control” in the new sub-zone “will place limits on the future expansion of the facilities [and] ensure an overall cap on the scale and intensity of development”.

Matakauri lawyer Mike Holm says his clients are pleased.

“We’re grateful to the council planners for seeing the sense of changing the zoning and it’s going to be to everyone’s benefit in the long run,” he says.

Holm can’t say when Matakauri’s expansion may begin.

“It’s premature to try and predict that because we’re having expert architects and planners look at the options now.”

An enlarged Matakauri will benefit local tourism, Holm believes.

“It provides that high-level accommodation which has proved very popular and there’s not a lot of it [here] so I think it would be beneficial to Queenstown.”