American billionaire Peter Thiel wants to build a luxury tourist lodge at Damper Bay near Wanaka.
"Resource consent is being sought for the lodge to be built on part of a 193ha farm owned for six years by Peter Thiel and Matt Danzeisen," a statement said.
The lodge is proposed to have 10 guest rooms, employ around 20 staff, and be number of curved, low-lying buildings to blend seamlessly into the landscape and be minimally visible.
A statement just issued said the Tokyo Olympic Stadium's architects Kengo Kuma & Associates had designed the lodge to target the premium visitor market.
A resource consent application has been lodged by a company owned by Thiel and Danzeisen with the Queenstown Lakes District Council and is to be notified.
Three guest buildings or pods, an owners' building, a small building for meditation and a back of house building are proposed.
The facilities will include lodge reception, guest bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchens and dining rooms, a library, a theatre lounge, offices and spa treatment rooms.
"The buildings have been designed to merge into the landscape and will be roofed with native grasses and vegetation, blending them into the surrounding hills, and the cladding will utilise low light reflective materials.
"No building will protrude above ridgelines, and the buildings will be difficult to see from public places. Kengo Kuma & Associates is noted for the use of materials natural to the local environment," the statement said.
The proposed landscaping will incorporate substantial areas of planting, including shrublands, native forest revegetation, and riparian and wetland planting. Parts of the property will be retired from pastoral farming, and cropping and fencing those areas will allow it to naturally regenerate.
At the farm, 73ha of new planting will be done including 5.7ha of native forest through the expansion of an existing kanuka grove which extends along the northern boundary of the site where it adjoins Damper Bay on Lake Wanaka.
This area will be fenced to keep pests and stock out. The native forest is to remain in perpetuity.
Three existing wetlands will be restored.
The application says these areas are currently boggy areas, one of which has stock drinking from it. The wetlands will be fenced off from pests and stock, cleared of any debris, and appropriate species planted to create functioning wetlands. These wetlands and tributary will be maintained as wetlands in perpetuity.
The property's steeper areas, which are currently farmed, has a more appropriate use as native shrublands, and will also be retired as farmland. Around 29ha of retired farmland is proposed to be fenced off and left to regenerate naturally.
Another 17ha of shrub vegetation is proposed to be actively planted around the entire site to add to the biodiversity, and provide ecological linkages and opportunities between vegetated areas, and the neighbouring sites.
Mitigation and other native planting is proposed around the buildings, which will incorporate species which naturally occur in the landscape, including on top of the building roofs.
The application also sets out the economic benefits of the project, noting that Wanaka, unlike Queenstown, currently has no five star or luxury hotels. The proposed Damper Bay lodge will introduce accommodation supply at the premium end of the market, in line with the Government's revamped tourism drive for more premium visitor assets targeting high-value visitors.
A tourism consultant report included in the application forecasts employment for between 15 to 30 people, all of whom will be highly skilled and paid at rates well above the average for the accommodation and food services industry.
The lodge will also support services from a wide range of local business and trades people, from electricians and florists to suppliers of local wellness products, foods and wines, delivering significantly disproportionate benefits to the Wanaka economy.
The proposed planting and ecological enhancements will create a biodiversity connection between the site and the neighbouring sites, including Lake Wanaka, improving the ecological state of the area.
Much of the site will be returned to its natural state through the retirement of farming, retaining its open nature in the more visible areas, and creation of riparian margins and wetlands. The maintenance and enhancement of these native ecosystems together with controlling pests and weeds, will result in positive biodiversity outcomes.
An esplanade reserve is already in place around the site's northern lake-side boundary, as is public access to the lake, with a walking and cycling tack along the northern boundary of the site. These will remain undisturbed.
The application notes there will be no adverse effects on fresh water. It will improve the current situation on and off site in regard to freshwater by fencing off waterways from stock, restoring three wetlands on the western side of the property, creating a new wetland to the front of the buildings, and undertaking riparian planting. This will in turn have a positive impact upon freshwater of the lake and tributaries.
The application will be publicly notified.