OCTOBER

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• Auckland developer Tony Gapes lodges a masterplan application for a $125 million shoppers’ paradise to replace “Hendo’s Hole” at Queens­town’s entranceway. Gapes hopes to start construction of a large Countdown supermarket and up to seven bulk retail stores early in the new year.

• A 300m-long fire on a gully above Wilson Bay, near Queenstown, comes close to houses and prompts 25 residents to evacuate. The fire is thought to have been sparked by trees interfering with power lines and could be on property linked to movie-making supremo Sir Peter Jackson’s wife Frances Walsh. Nearby residents, recalling the 2005 blaze that ravaged Closeburn, had expressed fears about overgrown trees near power lines last year.

• Queenstown’s affordable housing trust lands the first blow in its scrap with the Charities Commission. The trust was purged from the charities register last month, which chair David Cole (left) estimates will saddle it annually with $500,000 in tax. But the High Court allows the trust to restore its tax-exempt status pending an appeal.

Mountain Scene reveals that Ngai Tahu Charitable Group, comprising 40 companies including Queenstown’s Shotover Jet and Dart River Safaris and CBD landlord Ngai Tahu Property, gets large tax breaks. The group was registered with the Charities Commission in 2008. “On the face of it, it appears inconsistent,” David Cole says – his local affordable housing trust is losing its charitable status.

• Tourism heavyweight Skyline Enterprises announces it will allow mountain bikes on some of its Queenstown Bob’s Peak gondolas in a trial starting January. Under an agreement with Queens­town Lakes District Council, it will also build a six-kilometre beginner-level perimeter track.

• David Bowie’s New York-based personal assistant contacts Queenstowner Margaret O’Hanlon out of the blue. The megastar (above) is asking for a video of the Arrowtown Hall performance of O’Hanlon’s shoestring rock opera, Rock and Roll Suicide, that was inspired by the rocker’s hit music. The PA got in touch after reading about the show on Mountain Scene’s scene.co.nz website.

• Departing mayor Clive Geddes, finishing his nine-year reign, says Queens­town needs to change the type of visitor coming here. “Potentially there could be four million visitors [a year] by 2025 – the question we’re not asking ourselves is ‘Is that what we want?’