Two sections sold for $3.89 million

Dunedin auctioneer Warwick Grimmer sells a Walter Peak Station mortgagee property at Queenstown's Sofitel Hotel yesterday. Photo by David Williams.
Dunedin auctioneer Warwick Grimmer sells a Walter Peak Station mortgagee property at Queenstown's Sofitel Hotel yesterday. Photo by David Williams.
Walter Peak Station is back in common ownership for the first time in eight years - but do not expect sections to go on sale soon.

At a mortgagee auction in Queenstown yesterday, a representative for the station's foreign owners bought two residential sections for $3.89 million.

It was a piece of real estate theatre - the vendor and buyer were the same company, Walter Peak Station Corporate Trustee Ltd (WPSCT).

No other bidder was present in the 29 seats laid out in the third-floor boardroom of Queenstown's luxury Sofitel Hotel.

Each time auctioneer Warwick Grimmer, of Dunedin, asked for an opening bid, Alexandra lawyer John Williamson, a WPSCT director, put up his hand and said: ''One million, nine hundred and forty-five thousand dollars.''

The sections were 1470sq m and 1161sq m, each with a share of 34.6289ha of commonly owned land.

After the auction, Mr Williamson said having the land in common ownership allowed the company to pursue a variation to an indigenous planting programme.

''It's convenient for the trust to own all of the lots at this point but the residential lots will go on the market in the future once the revegetation plan is well established and the properties are ready for marketing and sale,'' Mr Williamson said.

He believed that might take three years.

The station's foreign owners carved off 38ha from the 26,000ha property for a luxury lodge and residential development, which was sold to now bankrupt developer Rod Nielsen in 2006.

Mr Nielsen's company, Walter Peak Developments, went bust in 2008, despite a $3.89 million loan made to the company by the station's owners through Walter Peak Station Trust.

As revealed in yesterday's Otago Daily Times, the mortgage securing the loan was not consented by the Overseas Investment Office, and the office said it should have been.

Before going through the auction formalities yesterday, Mr Grimmer surveyed the empty seats and said: ''Huge crowd; I've done some shows but never a crowd like this.''

After the $1.945 million opening bids, the auctioneer got no takers.

david.williams@odt.co.nz