NZ EXCLUSIVE MAY 2 1996: Simone Crowe and cricket-star hubby Martin honeymooned in the Wakatipu five years ago. In 1993 they came to live – but now they’re leaving, as headlines screamed a month ago, as a separated couple. Under siege from national media, Simone Crowe this week breaks her silence to speak exclusively to Mountain Scene editor Philip Chandler
“Neither of us was thrilled at the idea of leaving the Wakatipu,” says Simone, also speaking on behalf of Martin. “But we now feel very comfortable about our decisions.”
Martin’s move to quit Queenstown was brought forward by his premature retirement in January and, as Simone puts it, “by the reality of where’s next week’s wages?”
As business opportunities took Martin to Auckland, so interior designer Simone must also move where the money is. She’s leaving in a couple of weeks, when settlement comes through on the Millbrook Resort home they sold last year.
What’s not been revealed before, however, is how the Crowes looked around the Wakatipu for nearly 12 months for other property.
The elegantly-clad blonde won’t say so directly, but Simone Crowe hints Millbrook wasn’t quite the couple’s cup of tea as the exclusive golf-course resort developed apace. Nevertheless their love of the Wakatipu remained staunch right up to Martin’s forced retirement.
Two properties their real estate consultant showed them particularly appealed. One they even put an offer on, and had an architect look at – but subdivision permission was refused.
“If it wasn’t meant to happen, it wasn’t meant to happen,” says Simone philosophically. “And when we’d still not found anything, work possibilities for us in Auckland became stronger than the force to live here.
“We both like to be busy, and if 90 per cent of [work] is going to come from a different place we have to go. We’d both been approached about work there, we’re both from Auckland anyway and still went there for about a week every month.”
So long as Martin remained a “cricketer” – as the understated electoral roll lists the star’s occupation – Simone says they had the choice of living anywhere in NZ. “And we took it” – in the wonderland that is the Wakatipu.
After years in the media spotlight, Simone Crowe reflects on the comparative anonymity of Southern Lakes life – and the fun opportunities, like skiing for the first time and jumping out of an aeroplane.
But hot property Martin was also “smacked over the hand” by cricket bosses for doing both, she reveals.
Two years ago, Simone voiced exclusively to Mountain Scene concerns poor local planning was allowing ugly buildings to spoil the environment. Today, in a sombre swan-song, she repeats that warning as she farewells her beloved haven.
Queenstown, she says, has “something to treasure and nurture – and I hope people don’t forget it”.
“It is really important everyone, including developers, continues to maintain the essence of the Wakatipu, which is its beauty – one of the main reasons people come here.
“I’ll miss just waking up and looking at the mountains, it’s amazing,” she enthuses. “It’s been a fantastic opportunity living here.”
She’ll also miss our tapwater – “Auckland water is the pits – it’s full of chlorine!”
Perhaps to the surprise of some, she leaves the door open on coming back: “If Auckland turns out to be absolutely dreadful…”
Simone won’t discuss her amicable separation from cricket-great Martin – who visited her just last week. But she agrees it’s “ironic” their parting coincides with the master batsman retiring from the hurly-burly of international cricket.
So “100 per cent proud of Martin” is she that Simone Crowe won’t change her surname because of their split.
“Who knows what’ll happen?” she says wistfully.