Old Kelvin Heights crib site up for grabs

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The auction of an authentic Kelvin Heights crib is attracting a nostalgic internet audience of expats, including former Queenstowners. 

“They’re saying – man, this is great,” Ray White Queenstown boss Cameron Reed chuckles. 

The crib – that’s South Island-speak for bach – has old-time features such as Oregon pine flooring, a copper-bottomed shower, kitchen worktops in green Formica and a fireplace made from river stones. 

The property is being sold by Dr John Yardley, whose parents originally owned the two-bedroom, one-bathroom crib. 

The expat Kiwi recalls how his late father and two builders would travel up from the family farm in West Otago to work on the crib most weekends, from 1960-62. 

It was only the fourth house on Kelvin Peninsula. 

“The road only went that far [to the crib] and there were septic tanks,” Yardley told Mountain Scene from Canada, where he runs a laboratory for Ontario’s Brock University. 

“Some people thought it was crazy anyone would build around there instead of in Frankton. It was miles from anywhere.” 

It was always a holiday home, Yardley says, reminiscing over summers spent waterskiing and fishing, and winters skiing on Coronet Peak using rope tows. 

Yardley never guessed that Kelvin Peninsula would become New Zealand’s first suburb where property prices average $1 million, he says. 

It was his mother – now 86 and living in Alexandra – who bought the land for 108 pounds from saving up her family benefit. 

For that money, he points out, his mother got a double section – she sold the lower half in 1992, leaving the crib with its present 667sq m. 

Yardley’s a reluctant seller: “I’m unfortunately selling it out of my family – we’ve all gone our own ways so it’s sort of reached the end of a line.” 

Leaving NZ in 1987, he’s only been back every two or three years and his own children, well into their 20s, are unlikely to ever settle here, he says. 

Retired veteran realtor Doug Brown confirms the Yardley property is among the first on Kelvin Peninsula, recalling how nearby Willow Place sections sold in 1960-61 for between 100-300 pounds. 

In about 1963, Christchurch developer John Reid opened up the fledgling Kelvin Heights subdivision at the Queenstown end of the peninsula. 

The Yardley property goes under the hammer on February 12. He has no idea what it will fetch but says “we’re hoping for the best”. 

Ray White’s Reed points out developers aren’t the only target market – the crib is solidly built and has 15-20 years of life in it, he estimates. Its current capital value is $405,000 – $360,000 of which is the land.