Millbrook Resort Queenstown - EDITED

Future development at Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort is assured, with news that the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office has approved the acquisition of 66 hectares of land adjacent to the five-star resort.

Following a six-month process to prepare and lodge the application, OIO approval was granted late last week. The land is adjacent to Millbrook’s western boundary and gives the ‘green light’ for Millbrook, a company owned by the Ishii family interests, to purchase the land. Millbrook has plans to significantly expand the resort and potentially see its current 27-hole layout develop to a full two-course layout.

Millbrook Property and Development Manager Ben O’Malley described the OIO approval as “great news” for the resort.

“It’s fantastic for the continued future development of Millbrook,” he said. “The sale approval gives us the flexibility to proceed with a number of options, including an extended golf offering or rural lifestyle options.

“Our favoured option is to expand the course to provide for two 18-hole courses along with further residential development. Such development will first require a plan change to re-zone the land from Rural General to Millbrook Resort Zone, which could take 18 months to three years for the plan change process, followed by earthworks, construction and course ‘grow-in’ time.

“We’re hugely excited about the task ahead of us; a large task by any stretch of the imagination.”

The former farmland is described by O’Malley as “a bit rough at present”, but with huge potential to restore its natural beauty through careful planning and a lot of hard work.

“Mill Stream runs through the land before it passes through Millbrook Resort, so we see some great opportunities to continue riparian and habitat restoration which has seen bird and fish life in the Millbrook section of Mill Stream flourish since the development of Millbrook’s Coronet Nine golf course,” he said.

O’Malley said Millbrook’s multi-million-dollar contribution to the local economy and the New Zealand tourism industry was already “well recognised”, and future development of the land would enable the creation of further employment and tourism opportunities for the district.

Millbrook is owned by the Japan-based Ishii family which bought the original Millbrook land 26 years ago in 1988. Opened to the public in 1994, the Ishii family’s ultimate vision is to develop “the best golf and lifestyle resort in the world”.

“Buying this new land shows a continuing commitment to that vision and will enable Millbrook to take the next step on that journey,” said O’Malley.

Boasting many awards and accolades, Millbrook Resort is renowned the world over for its exceptional accommodation, spa, restaurants, golf course and property, facilities which are open to Millbrook members, hotel guests and to the public as day visitors.
Over the years the residential community has grown considerably in terms of permanent residents and holiday home owners. The resort is also a great community supporter with events hosted at Millbrook including the Tour de Wakatipu, this weekend’s Queenstown Marathon and the New Zealand Golf Open.

Millbrook currently comprises 27 golf holes with one full 18-hole course available at any time using a mixture of the three nines – the Arrow Nine, Remarkables Nine and newer Coronet Nine. This has maintenance benefits but limits golfing capacity to just a single course shared between members and guests, which can be an issue at peak times.

Golf tourism in Queenstown is significantly increasing and is recognised by the Government as a growth area. Moving to a two-course layout would enable Millbrook to offer New Zealand’s only two-course resort complex and double its capacity.

Greg Turner, who designed the Coronet Nine at Millbrook and is a member of Tourism New Zealand’s Golf Tourism working party, has already assessed possible routing options for a new nine-hole course on the land.

He said expanding the course to 36 holes would, to all intents and purposes, add another course to the Queenstown offering.

O’Malley said quality golf courses were expensive to create, and so the Millbrook model of building a course that was integrated with residential development was essential to make such a project economically viable, and had already proved hugely successful.

“The executive team and the Ishii family are extremely proud of what’s been achieved in the last 25 years and it’s now time to look towards the next 25 or 50 years,” he said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management