Old miner’s cottage on valuable land won’t appeal to everyone

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The auction of a Queenstown heritage cottage highlights the dilemma of an almost worthless but historic dwelling sitting on high-value land. 

An 1862 two-bedroom Chinese goldminer’s cottage on a huge 1000sq m section at 28 Park Street goes under the hammer on February 17. 

The property’s rating valuation is $1.795 million – all but $20,000 of that is land value. 

As recently as 2003, the total valuation was a far more modest $455,000. 

Quite how Quotable Value came up with $1.795m is a mystery – Bayleys agent Mark Martin certainly won’t put a number on the place. 

“We’ll leave that up to the market because we just don’t really have an idea,” he admits. 

He hopes the cottage won’t be bowled: “I’d like to think it would go to somebody who wants to restore it and retain it in Queenstown.” 

The cottage is a contemporary of the 1864 restored Williams Cottage on Queenstown Bay and Martin says Park St could perhaps get a similar reprieve. 

“Someone could do what they did to Williams Cottage – restore it and keep it there, a piece of Queenstown’s history.” 

But there could be complications. 

“It’s not registered with the Historic Places Trust but the council acknowledges it’s got historic features and has a Category 3 rating on it. 

“If nothing’s done to it, it’s just going to get worse and worse and harder and harder to repair and maintain,” Martin says. 

Could you move the cottage elsewhere and develop the bare land? 

“There’s no yes-no answer about anything,” Martin says. 

“You’d have to make an application to the council and they’d consult with the Historic Places Trust.” 

This is a house of two halves, he says – “one part that’s eight years old and another that’s almost 150 years old”. 

In 2003, a Michael Wyatt-designed extension added a drawing room, second verandah and modern bathroom to the original miner’s cottage. 

Olivia Page of Christchurch, daughter of late owner Tim Thompson, has fond memories of school holiday visits. 

She stayed with granny Kate Thompson, who bought the property in 1955 in partnership with poet and literary patron Charles Brasch. 

“It was pretty primitive but charming to live in and made you think of some olde worlde place,” Page recalls. 

There are two play huts out the back, she remembers – “one from the Ministry of Works, the other an old Army hut, one for the girls, one for the boys”. Page will be one of seven children to share in the proceeds from the 
auction. 

The place isn’t going to appeal to everyone, agent Martin acknowledges. 

“Because of what it is, it’s only going to suit a certain person.”