Nothing better illustrates the rise of Queenstown’s wealthiest suburb than a story involving colourful Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt.
Shadbolt – speaking ahead of this Sunday’s launch of a history of Kelvin Peninsula – recalls being talked out of buying a lakefront section near what’s now a golf course for about $50 in 1967.
At the time he was working on the Manapouri Power Project during a break from being a radical student at Auckland University.
Shadbolt says he was collared by another patron, incredulous he was about to buy a section: “He said, ‘no, no, no, the catch is they won’t put electricity onto the peninsula until there’s at least 50 houses built there, and there’s no way you’ll get 50 mugs in this bloody world who’ll want to buy a house way out in the sticks like that’.”
Shadbolt remembers spending his money instead on an FJ Holden car.
Kelvin Heights resident George Singleton, who’s penned Our Place in the Sun: The Kelvin Peninsula, says Shadbolt could’ve made a hell of a good investment if he’d stuck to his guns.
That section could now be worth up to $1,250,000, he suggests, but adds: “In those days, did people think of buying sections? All my mates, the first thing they did was buy a car.
“Considering his age at the time, it was probably just a normal decision.”
The peninsula was also pretty undeveloped: “A lot of the early sections had no water, no power, no telephone, and bugger-all of a road.”
Despite multi-million dollar homes now, Singleton says residents still think of it as a community.
“It hasn’t just become a suburb of a town, it’s a community of people, and the next-door neighbour will help the next-door neighbour, that sort of thing.”
Singleton says peninsula residents have cumulatively spent tens of thousands of hours building up facilities like the golf course, Jardine Park and lakeside track – traditionally with Tuesday morning working bees.
Our Place in the Sun is launched at 3pm, Sunday, at Hilton Queenstown’s Wakatipu Grill restaurant.
Published by the Kelvin Peninsula Community Association, it retails for $34.50.