You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
However, it might not be an easy ride for the American, as at least one group says it will do all it can to get "a better deal" for the public. The 59-year-old was named last night by 1 News as the man behind Orange Lakes Ltd, the company listed as the station’s buyer.
Mr Lauer is one of the highest paid news anchors in the world, earning between $US20 million and $US25 million ($NZ28 million to $NZ35 million). He hosts NBC’s Today show.
It is understood current leaseholders Taff and Pene Cochrane will remain as managers. At the time of the OIO’s decision, neither the property’s selling price nor the buyer’s identity were disclosed. In a recent interview with American talk-show host Jimmy Fallon, Mr Lauer gushed about New Zealand.
"Have you ever been to New Zealand? It is the most sensational country on the planet in my opinion. It’s beautiful," he said.
Because the station is on leasehold land, the Crown retains ownership and the deal still needs to be approved by the commissioner of Crown Lands.In its summary of the decision, the OIO said Mr Lauer was a key person in a key industry.
Public access to parts of the station has been a contentious issue. In 2015, the Cochranes temporarily blocked access to Meads Rd, the only road access to the Department of Conservation’s Kidds Bush camp.
As part of the deal, Mr Lauer agreed to support and enable public access to several important sites, such as the Hawea Conservation Estate.
Another condition was to support and pay for surveying and legal costs associated with the Queenstown Lakes District Council taking over the road.
Walking access for trampers, hunters, fishermen, horse riders and non-motorised cyclists must continue, but the terms would be determined by the leaseholder.
Before the purchase was approved, representatives of Mr Lauer met a group of 10 parties who were interested in boosting public access on the station.
Not everyone involved in those talks thinks Mr Lauer’s deal is an improvement on the current situation.
Federated Mountain Climbers president Peter Wilson said his group hoped to get the decision overturned or for Mr Lauer to revisit it.
"Effectively, we thought we had negotiated a deal in good faith to allow access for all New Zealanders to a very important piece of conservation land."
Mr Wilson said those who took part in the talks knew Mr Lauer’s identity but were sworn to secrecy.