Celebrity interest in farm

By Rebecca Lewis

Metallica frontman James Hetfield. Photo / Richard Robinson
Metallica frontman James Hetfield. Photo / Richard Robinson

A rugged piece of North Island farmland is said to be the battleground between two international rock stars with deep pockets.

The deer farm, bordering three Rotorua lakes, is New Zealand's answer to Africa's Ngorongoro Crater dubbed the cradle of mankind.

The farm contains the deep crater of a dormant volcano, now home to its own small lake and wildlife.

A Maori tribal trust has put the land on the market with an estimated asking price of up to $4 million.

There is speculation that Metallica frontman James Hetfield, a keen hunter and fisherman, could have been the prospective buyer who inspected the property by helicopter this week. Hetfield was in Auckland for two concerts at the waterfront Vector Arena.

But a second buyer - tipped to be a New Zealand-based music star - is also said to have expressed an interest in the property and is awaiting an opportunity to inspect it.

The 265ha block of land is being marketed by Bayleys as the perfect location for celebrities who value privacy.

Earlier this week, Bayleys estate agent Beth Millard said: "It's the sort of location that would suit the likes of a pop star like Shania Twain who has a high country station in Otago - somewhere they can helicopter in and spend the weekend roving around the property or heading down to the lake for a fish without anyone knowing they were around."

She added: "There's an abundance of suitable building sites which would easily sustain a home of majestic proportions with unbelievable views."

The block of farmland is owned by Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands and is being offered for sale through a tender process which closes on November 15.

It could be converted into a commercial farming operation, developed into a lifestyle block with a luxury retreat or broken up into smaller blocks.

Existing buildings on the site include a manager's residence, woolshed, cattle yards, deer handling facilities and a helicopter hanger.

Hetfield was in Auckland for concerts on Wednesday and Thursday night - the same days the buyer was due to view the location.

But weather conditions did not allow the chartered helicopter to land on the property on those days, so the pilot flew from Auckland and circled over the property on Friday instead.

Metallica were not due to leave Auckland for Brisbane, the next stop on their World Magnetic Tour, until Friday night.

"They flew there today from Auckland in a black jet ranger chopper," a source said on Friday.

"He didn't land, but flew over the property for about 15 minutes and hovered above the crater."

The Herald on Sunday understands the helicopter company was told that a major international rock star wanted to look at the property.

According to the Metallica website, Hetfield is a fan of outdoor activities including hunting, snowboarding and water and jet-skiiing.

- Herald on Sunday

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