Expect United States president Barack Obama to visit Queenstown next summer - after his presidency is over.
Mountain Scene understands a high-ranking security official recently visited Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort to discuss a possible private visit by Obama and his family.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key this month reiterated the president, who leaves office in November, is keen to come to NZ privately because he has friends in Auckland and his kids are itching to come.
Asked if Millbrook - which hosted sitting US president Bill Clinton in 1999 - was planning to accommodate Obama, executive team member Teresa Chapman replies: “We do not discuss, divulge or pass on information about any of our guests, any of our guests’ plans, anybody visiting, anybody staying - it doesn’t matter who it is, everyone is treated the same.”
Key previously told More FM he was unaware of any plans for an official visit and Obama’s office was against the idea because his schedule’s too busy in his final year in office.
It’s also probably too late to arrange the extra security an official visit would require. Security arrangements for Clinton’s visit to Queenstown took months to organise.
Even then, Key says Clinton couldn’t take a trip on Queenstown’s Shotover Jet because the Americans didn’t have enough snipers overlooking the Shotover River.