Deer park closes as owners 'too old'

Deer Park Heights closes its entrance to visitors. Photo by Joanne Carroll.
Deer Park Heights closes its entrance to visitors. Photo by Joanne Carroll.
Queenstown tourist attraction Deer Park Heights has been closed to visitors after nearly 40 years.

Owner Frank Mee said he was closing the park, but it was not for sale.

He said the park had been making money and was "very popular".

"Everyone is going bankrupt in Queenstown, but we are not. . . we're just getting too old, so we're giving up," he said.

Mr Mee was born in 1922 and he, and his wife Jean, opened the park in 1970.

It was granted a zoo licence in 1971.

Over time, the park grew from just seven red deer to nearly 1000 red and fallow deer, alpaca, Himalayan tahr, llama, bison, yaks, donkeys, goats, miniature horses, kune kune pigs and ducks.

The park was used as a location for the Wolverine (X-Men) movie and offered some of the most spectacular views in the area, he said.

He said the park was cheap to run because entry was $20 by way of an automatic toll gate.

Dispensers offered tourists a tin of nuts for $2 to feed the animals.

However, the park had been vandalised recently, with visitors breaking three dispensers and pulling out signs.

Deer Park Safaris Ltd ran guided tours through the park.

Driver Brian Mitchell, from Arrowtown, said the closure was "a bolt out of the blue".

He was told on Monday last week he was out of a job because the park was closing.

"It's a bit of a shame," he said.

Company director Antony Bush was "shattered" by the sudden decision, Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Bush could not be contacted for comment.






I was very shocked with the news. I still couldn't believe whether it was only a rumor or it's really true.
What on earth is going on?

This is the only reason why I have visited Queenstown for the past 3 years. This place is also the only reason why I think Queenstown is a place that must be visited.

Deer Park provides 360 degree magnificient views, and of course the idea of closing it is not acceptable.

I think, if the owner really wants to close it, NZ goverment should do something about it.

And for the owner, please don't be so selfish. Other people also have their right to appreciate and love it as you do.

Deer Park Heights

I am an Australian who is a regular visitor to Queenstown. One of the most enjoyable parts of my visits are my trips to Deer Park Heights, I visit at least twice each time I'm in Queenstown. Over the years that I have been visiting Queenstown I have introduced my Australian friends to the town and it's environs, and they always get a lot of enjoyment from DPH.
I am a Lord of the Rings fan and I love visiting the movie sites, but more than that, I love the wonderful views from DPH and the interaction with the animals. I'm sure that if the owners of DPH and the Queenstown council realised how important the park is to tourists, efforts would be made to keep the park open.
Surely some arrangement could be made whereby either the Council or a private operator could hire the area from the owners and continue to run the park as a tourist attraction. If the people of Queenstown truely care about their tourism industry they will keep Deer Park Heights open.