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Peter Thiel’s New Zealand lodge should be rejected, council planner says


Peter Thiel owns properties around the globe, but it is possible that a luxury lodge in New Zealand will not be built.

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Peter Thiel’s South Island luxury lodge is in jeopardy after an environmental planner from the council stated that the development of the tech billionaire should be halted.

Sarah Gathercole (senior planner Queenstown Lakes District Council) published a report of 978 pages Monday recommending that permission for planning be denied because the lodge would have “adverse consequences” to the landscape’s character and quality.

She stated that “these adverse effects can’t be adequately mitigated.” While the proposal will have some benefits, it doesn’t seem to be enough positive impact on the environment for them to completely offset or compensate the negative effects.

Plan for the complex published by the council last SeptemberThe photos, which show several buildings along the shores the idyllic Lake Wanaka. Wanaka has just 10,000 inhabitants and surrounds sites used in filming the “Lord of the Rings”, a trilogy of movies that Thiel loves.

Kengo Kuma, Tokyo Olympic Stadium architect, and associates have created plans that show an exclusive residential building and larger lodge, both with sufficient space to accommodate 24 people. A separate meditation pod is also available, as well as several water features. There’s even a back of-house structure.

One cabin is called the owner and has a spa. It also has a theater lounge and office. While the guest cabin boasts its own spa and pool as well. There are 10 guest rooms with unobstructed views towards Lake Wanaka.

Kengo Kuma and Associates stated that the goal was to create an “organic architecture that blends into the landscape” and preserves indigenous nature. 

Gathercole however stated that the proposed project is “on a scale far beyond what could reasonably be expected in the rural zone or an exceptional natural landscape”.

Three environmental groups opposed plans, and three more sought to change them.

Julian Haworth (secretary of the Upper Clutha Environmental Society), who opposed the plans, said to CNBC that the lodge would “highly visible from trails around the area and Lake Wanaka.”

He stated that “the buildings planned to be built will spread laterally over the landscape for approximately 330 meters” and would be visible from Te Araroa Track and Lake Wanaka. Both of these viewpoints are frequently visited by the public. The society is not opposed to the applicant building large, well-located residences on the site. However, the proposed scale of development is unacceptable.

Thiel co-founded this representative PayPal and Palantir and backed Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Thiel’s love for New Zealand

Thiel, an early investor in FacebookAnd a friend of Elon Musk’s, bought the estate in 2015 for a reported $13.5 million through an Auckland-headquartered company he owns called Second Star Limited.

In 2017, it emerged that Thiel had been granted citizenshipThe New Zealand government. Local citizens reacted to the accusation and accused him of buying quietly citizenship.

New Zealand is a remote country that has attracted high-net-worth people in recent years. Billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page was granted residency at the start of last year.

Home to around 5 million people, the country has become synonymous with “preppers” — those who try to prepare for catastrophic events that may pose a threat to humanity. A website is available for those who want to prepare their family members to “survive” New Zealand.

The latest reports had suggested that Thiel was planning to build some sort of apocalypse-proof bunker on his 193 hectare (477-acre) estate in Wanaka, which is currently used as a working farm. Although some buildings are built into hillside hillsides it is unclear whether any of these structures will be used as bunkers.