'Wakatipu House' designed on cocktail napkin

An American couple are selling their alpine-style log house on Corsican Drive. Photo: Supplied
An American couple are selling their alpine-style log house on Corsican Drive. Photo: Supplied

In 1986, Martha Holmes, then an award-winning ad agency creative director in New York City’s Madison Avenue, came to Queenstown with her husband to see Halley’s Comet.

“It looked teeny in the sky over Queenstown and we didn’t care, because we had discovered this wonderland that nobody we knew had ever seen.”

One morning her husband, Chuck Currie, who worked in a Wall Street investment bank, told her he’d made an appointment with a real estate agent.

The agent showed them some lots for sale off Moke Lake Road, including 8 Corsican Drive.

The view down the lake and across to the Remarkables blew their minds, she says.

On their flight home, her husband convinced her they should buy the plot, “with my proviso that we build something on it so we could go there”.

“He wanted a log cabin, not knowing that New Zealand isn’t really log cabin country.”

Holmes says she couldn’t find a suitable log cabin design.

“So I turned to the cocktail napkin by my red wine glass and drew a log cabin with two floors, then faxed it to the builder we’d selected, Ken Cochrane, who would have to figure out how to nestle it into that steep slope overlooking that magnificent view.”

Because they were too busy with work, Hughes got her little sister, then based in Alaska, to come over with her family to oversee the build for six months.

They then flew down when the home was ready.

“The place looked meek on the outside, but on the inside it was way bigger than I ever expected.

“Big enough to have a sleeping loft above the living room, where my little nieces chose to sleep, climbing up a ladder to get there – very Alaskan of them.”

Both families returned for Thanksgiving in the cabin, now called ‘Wakatipu House’, in 2007.

Holmes and Currie returned in 2011, just after the massive Christchurch quake.

“We got to the cabin and put a fire in the fireplace, then nestled in to watch Sky TV, which cut to an aerial scene of the tsunami that ransacked Japan.”

Between times they’ve let out their cabin for short-term accommodation, but they’ve now listed it with NZ Sotheby’s International Realty’s Arrowtown agents Vanessa Sharp and Carl Johnston – with price by negotiation.

They’ll still return to Queenstown, dine again at The Cow, “take the high roads to those magnificent views and remember joys that we hope others will discover in that beautiful land”.

But, perhaps surprisingly, they’ve got no problems with the government’s foreign buyer ban, introduced last October.

“NZ is too small to welcome new citizens from everywhere, especially given the billionaires who’d so happily buy up that lovely beauty and call it their own,” Holmes says.

“So, though we are also seeing the welcome withdrawn for rich Americans, we support the limiting of the ability of foreigners like ourselves to buy and own.”


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