First look at Otago Uni's planned Queenstown retreat

An artist's impression shows a proposed lecture hall at Hakitekura, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu...
An artist's impression shows a proposed lecture hall at Hakitekura, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, owned by University of Otago. Image: Supplied
The University of Otago has applied for consent to build a $12 million retreat for academics near Queenstown’s Jack’s Point, but is backing off a plan to build it by the end of next year.

Calling it one of the most significant donations ever received by a New Zealand university, it announced last December it would build the retreat on a four-hectare lakefront site given to it by Remarkables Station owners Dick and Jillian Jardine in 2016.

The Woolshed Bay complex, called Hakitekura, will be used by Otago academics, staff and students, and also to host visiting boffins and national and international organisations.

The university has just applied for resource consent, asking Queenstown’s council to call for public submissions on the proposal.

The application contains the first artist’s impressions of how the finished complex will look.

The site’s homestead, known as the ‘Woolshed’ — in which the Jardines lived until 2016 — will be converted into communal spaces like a lounge and bar, library, a meeting room, and wellness and multi-faith rooms.

It will also have a reception area, office, staff and storage areas.

Another residence on the site will be bowled to make way for a lecture theatre, seminar and meeting rooms, and kitchen and dining facilities.

The theatre will be built with 60 seats, but have the capacity for a second stage to allow expansion to 120 seats.

There will also be a five-block accommodation complex with 16 self-contained rooms, and a three-bedroom unit for staff.

Other structures include a ‘‘solar panel farm’’.

The application says the facility’s likely to be made available for private bookings, such as for visitor accommodation and weddings, to provide for ‘‘economic viability’’.

The uni said last year it expected the project to be completed by December next year.

But the application walks back from that intention.

It says a start date for construction is ‘‘currently unknown’’.

Expected to take 14 to 16 months, the timing of the build will be partly influenced by when it can connect into water supply and reticulated wastewater to the property, which dates back to 1861.

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