New Zealander David Rowell, of Seattle. Photo supplied.
A New Zealander living in the United States says he
offered to buy the Kingston Flyer for $1.25 million with the
aim of returning the rusting historic steam train operation to
its former commercial glory.
However, travel consultant David Rowell, of Seattle, told the
Otago Daily Times this week the owner of the Flyer,
David Bryce, of Renwick, declined his offer, then raised the
asking price by $500,000.
The original 2013 asking price of the package of two
locomotives, carriages, 10 land titles, buildings including
the cafe-bar, chattels, plant and machinery was $2.5 million.
But Mr Rowell said he believed the assets were not worth $2.5
million and did not represent the amount Mr Bryce paid to buy
the Flyer in mid 2011.
''He bought a business that had two operating steam
locomotives, now there is only one,'' Mr Rowell said.
''The other one needs at least $300,000 worth of boiler
''Everything has got older.
''The carriages have been parked outside in the rain for
almost a year.''
He was concerned over the state of the wooden carriages and
their canvas roof coverings.
''You just need a single pin prick and water starts to drop
in and the carriage body starts to rot away.
''The steam engines themselves don't like being parked out
just quietly rusting away either.
''Nothing's gone up in value since he bought it.
''Nothing's gone up in value since he stopped operating it,
but he's standing on this figure since he first tried to sell
Mr Rowell contacted Adrian Chisholm, of sales agent Tourism
Properties, and Mr Bryce, when he discovered the Flyer was
for sale when planning a Queenstown itinerary last October.
''As much as I like trains, I was approaching it more from a
business proposition than a `save the Flyer' point of view
and I just couldn't make the numbers add up,'' he said.
''The cost of buying the train is just the tip of the iceberg
and eventually I made an offer, subject to a feasibility
study and that sort of thing.''
Mr Rowell made his ''best and final offer'' of $1.25 million
on February 27. Within a couple of hours, Mr Chisholm told Mr
Rowell his offer had been turned down and Mr Bryce had lifted
the asking price to $3 million.
''Then a bit later in the day, I got another note from the
business broker saying David would be open to a more
reasonable offer,'' Mr Rowell said.
''I sent a 10-page note explaining why I thought $1.25
million was more than it was worth.
''I said what is `more reasonable' and how about a
counteroffer from David? How about- some sort of data to
prove why he thinks it's worth what he thinks it's
worth?''Nothing [was] forthcoming, of course.''
Mr Bryce, who put the Kingston Flyer on the market due to his
ill health, said yesterday he had ''no comment'' on the
He said the Flyer was still for sale at $2.5 million.
Mr Chisholm said yesterday more than 40 parties had inquired
about the Flyer during the past 11 months.
''We are dealing with other buyers from China and India and
other parties, via their solicitors, whose identities are
still confidential and we're hopeful that over the next
several months a buyer will see the value in the $2.5 million
asking price,'' Mr Chisholm said.
On the buffers
• The Kingston Flyer is a category one protected feature in
the district plan of the Queenstown Lakes District
• Two engines and four carriages, located in the vicinity of
the Kingston railway, including the Kingston Railway Station,
are protected from ''demolition'', which includes removal
from the district.
• The capital value of the land and buildings only shows a
total of $1.7 million on the current rates assessment
notices, Tourism Properties advertises.