Peter Thiel’s Wānaka luxury lodge idea rejected by council planner

The Wanaka Guest Pavilion proposed by Peter Thiel was designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architects Kengo Kuma and Associates.

Provided

The Wanaka Guest Pavilion proposed by Peter Thiel was designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architects Kengo Kuma and Associates.

Billionaire Peter Thiel’s plans for a luxury lodge near Wānaka have suffered a significant setback with a council report recommending that his application be rejected.

Thiel’s company, Second Star Ltd, requested the construction of a ten-bedroom lodge and owner’s quarters on a 193ha rural site on the outskirts of Wānaka.

Facilities would include a meditation capsule, library, theater lounge and spa rooms.

The buildings were designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architect Kengo Kuma and Associates and were to be integrated into the landscape.

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Artist's impression of the view from inside the luxury lodge that Peter Thiel hopes to build in Damper Bay, Wānaka.

PROVIDED

Artist’s impression of the view from inside the luxury lodge that Peter Thiel hopes to build in Damper Bay, Wānaka.

The resource consent request has drawn opposition from local environmental groups and now Queenstown Lakes District planner Sarah Gathercole has recommended that it be refused.

His report, which was released on Tuesday, will inform the council’s independent commissioners who will make a final decision on the resource consent application during a two-day hearing starting May 23.

Gathercole’s report states that the lodge would have unacceptable adverse effects on land designated as Outstanding Natural Landscape.

It would be visible from “key locations” including the Glendhu Bay Track, Wānaka Mount Aspiring Road and Lake Wānaka, the report said.

A sketch of the aerial view of the lodge proposed by Peter Thiel, looking towards Lake Wanaka.

Provided

A sketch of the aerial view of the lodge proposed by Peter Thiel, looking towards Lake Wanaka.

The scale of development was “much greater” than could be anticipated in the rural area, he says.

“These adverse effects cannot be appropriately mitigated.”

Gathercole noted that the proposal had positive effects on ecological issues, cultural effects, reverse susceptibility, access and circulation, and natural hazards.

All buildings include green roofs that extend to the ground at each end.

Rooftops will be planted with the same range of plants (and occasional rocks) that grow in the surrounding area.

REGENT

The Seagliders are being developed by former Boeing engineers with funding from investors including US billionaire Peter Thiel.

The proposal includes significant ecological works, including the conservation of native forest, fencing to keep pests and livestock out, and the restoration of wetlands along a significant area of ​​farmland.

The lodge is offered to accommodate up to 24 people and six additional people in the owner’s pod. Up to 15 employees will be on site during peak hours, none of whom will reside on site.

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel's plans for a luxury lodge near Wānaka have suffered a setback.

AP Photo/J. Scott Apple White

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s plans for a luxury lodge near Wānaka have suffered a setback.

Thiel, who co-founded Paypal with Tesla owner Elon Musk in 2000, sold a Queenstown mansion for $6.85 million earlier this year, a decade after buying it.

Thiel’s company, Second Star Ltd, paid $4.8 million for the five-bedroom Edinburgh Drive home in 2011.

Known as the “plasma house”, it has 15m floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of central Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.​

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel's Second Star company sold this Queenstown home for $6.85 million earlier this year.

Debbie Jamieson / Stuff

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Second Star company sold this Queenstown home for $6.85 million earlier this year.

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