Friday, 1 December 2017

The Matt Lauer-New Zealand Problem

There's an odd story following the firing of Matt Lauer of the Today Show (for sexual harassment).

Somewhere early in 2017....a property came up for sale in New Zealand (south isle).  It's a 26,000 acre sheep-ranch....referred to as 'Hunter Valley'. 

If you go and pull up the map....along the western side of the south isle, are a ton of mountains and in the middle of this range is this lake (Lake Hawea).  Highway 6 runs along the western end of the lake, and this ranch basically sits on the whole (emphasize WHOLE) western end of the lake.  The dirt road out from Highway 6 to the actual ranch house?  It's at least five miles....maybe even going on seven miles.

Based on the newspaper accounts, it'd been run for years by a New Zealand couple and they put it up for sale, and Lauer bought it in March....for around 10-million USD (more or less).

Locals came immediately upon the sale and had negativity.  First, it was another foreigner (something that gets discussed alot by New Zealand folks these days).  Then came this issue of access.  The old owners had allowed some limited access.....mostly for bike races and special events. But for the most part, the dirt road was not a public road.  They wanted Lauer to agree on full open access, and that wasn't forthcoming.  The dirt road ownership?'s a private road....not a state road.

As for civilization?  Well, that's another funny part of this story.  Where this ranch house and property exists....there's nothing else there.  Here's the lake on one side and a snow-capped mountain on the other side, and tons of sheep.  If you wanted zero stress, limited contact with humans, and solitude?  Well....this is the place..

Looking for a gas station?  The nearest one to the gate of the twelve miles away.  Looking for a grocery? You can figure roughly a 45-minute drive from the house to a real grocery (not a general store).  The local 'city'?  Wanaka.  If you'd gone there thirty years ago, it was purely ranch property, cafe or two, maybe two or three stores, and a few houses.  Today, it's near 6,500 residents....with a number of hotels and lodges.  Yeah, a lot of tourists come through and stay for a couple of days because of the scenic lakefront and glaciers off in the distance.

What was Lauer's intention here?  Unknown.  Maybe he was going to retire there.  Maybe he would have opened up a lodge of his own.

The problem now? get residency and thus full need to pass a character-test.  Yeah, those sneaky New Zealand folks decided that with the foreigners coming in....someone needs to check people out.  Well....Lauer was fired for sexual harassment.  Apparently, the audit crew in New Zealand thinks this needs to be reviewed.  The odds of a purchase being halted?  At this point, it's an unknown.  The fear factor here is that Lauer might end up losing his the purchase deal  and be refused residency.

An odd problem?  Well, one might get the idea that he had some retirement plan in his mind for three or four years in the future, and the sheep ranch thing with almost no civilization around?  Well...yeah, it's just an odd idea.