Property editor of the NZ Herald

American doomsdayers: why they're coming to New Zealand

Americans arriving in our lakes area are deciding underground shelters are gratuitous, the New Yorker has reported. Photo/Doug Sherring
Americans arriving in our lakes area are deciding underground shelters are gratuitous, the New Yorker has reported. Photo/Doug Sherring

American doomsdayers, or survivalists, buying properties here view New Zealand as isolated enough from their country, which potentially faces a decade of political turmoil and racial tension, a major United States publication says.

Evan Osnos of The New Yorker visited New Zealand last month and his feature Survival of the Richest appears in the January 30 issue.

Threats Americans fear include natural disasters, quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb, collapse of the US government and structures, terror, threats to food and water and large-scale unrest.

That has resulted in a "preoccupation with the apocalpyse... in Silicon Valley", The New Yorker reports.

New Zealand is viewed as increasingly attractive to wealthy Americans, particularly hedge fund managers, Osnos says in the feature.

New Zealand is reported as a place where people can safely disagree with each other.

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Osnos reported LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman said more than 50 per cent of Silicon Valley billionaires had acquired some level of 'apocalypse insurance' in the form of a hideaway in the United States or abroad.

"Saying you're 'buying a house in New Zealand' is kind of a 'wink wink, say no more'," The New Yorker reported the LinkedIn co-founder saying.

Real estate agent Graham Wall is quoted in The New Yorker article. Photo/Dean Purcell
Real estate agent Graham Wall is quoted in The New Yorker article. Photo/Dean Purcell

Jack Matthews, the American chairman of New Zealand entertainment and news business MediaWorks, is quoted in The New Yorker saying New Zealand is a first world country, self-sufficient in energy, water, food and because it's a "tiny place, there is no anonymity. People have to actually have a degree of civility."

Osnos quoted Queenstown and Wanaka area construction chief Peter Campbell of Triple Star Management saying that once wealthy American clients had arrived, they decided underground shelters were "gratuitous". But they did want helicopter pads.

Jim Rohrstaff of Legacy Partners features in the article, talking the writer to Tara Iti north of Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker
Jim Rohrstaff of Legacy Partners features in the article, talking the writer to Tara Iti north of Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker

New Zealander Graham Wall, an Auckland-headquartered real estate agent, told The New Yorker about his American clients buying properties in New Zealand due to its remoteness.

Osnos helicoptered to Tara Iti, the new golf and housing resort north of Auckland with Legacy Partners co-owner American Jim Rohrstaff who moved to New Zealand to sell property to high net worth individuals wanting to get away from all the issues of the world.

The Overseas Investment Office regularly grants consents to foreigners to buy property classed as "sensitive" but many decisions also refer to the applicants planning to apply for New Zealand residency.

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