More KiwiBuild houses fail to sell

The effectiveness of Kiwibuild is under further fire, with more houses failing to sell, this time in Canterbury. This means they mustn’t be affordable enough for the market.

This had already been a problem in Wanaka. (September 2018): KiwiBuild houses at Wanaka to be priced between $565,000 and $650,000

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says 211 KiwiBuild homes will be built over the next two years as part of the Northlake development, a master planned development of more than 800 homes on the outskirts of Wanaka township.

“Our Government is taking a comprehensive approach to assisting first home buyers in one of our least affordable areas.”

How affordable are those prices to first home buyers?

Not very – ODT (February 2019): ‘It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them’

As revealed by the Otago Daily Times last week, only four of the first 10 KiwiBuild houses had been sold.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said yesterday she considered the houses ”not practical” and ”not functional”.

”The Government expects Wanaka families looking for a home to pay over half a million dollars for a two-bedroom townhouse that doesn’t even have a garage.

”How appealing is a two-bedroomed town house that’s attached to another property by a shared wall, with no garage, and costs upwards of $560,000?

”It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them.”

Ms Dean said the lack of interest showed how out of touch the Government was ”when it comes to delivering suitable first homes for young Kiwi families”.

RNZ today:  Lack of sales in Christchurch adds to KiwiBuild pressure

Another KiwiBuild development backed by taxpayer money is failing to generate buyer demand – prompting more calls for Labour’s flagship programme to be dumped.

The Wanaka development has already come under scrutiny after slow sales – now KiwiBuild houses are sitting unsold in Canterbury.

Under the contracts, the developer can now either sell them on the open market at a cheaper price, with the government topping up any shortfall, or require the government to buy the properties back.

Back in February the government announced it would partner with Mike Greer Homes to build 104 houses in Auckland and Christchurch and the outer suburbs – 65 in Canterbury.

Last November, ministers were told there were 4083 people on Kiwibuild’s Register of Interest in Christchurch, with an estimated shortfall of 1000 houses.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said in parliamentary responses to National’s Judith Collins none of the houses in the Canterbury developments had been sold; all had gone on offer on 20 February.

Mike Greer is currently marketing seven KiwiBuild homes, with prices ranging from $459,000 to $480,000.

Helen O’Sullivan took over as head of the KiwiBuild unit in February. It was surprising, but she was not “overly concerned” the houses had not sold, she said.

“They’re good quality homes, they’re warm, dry, modern and by a recognised builder.”

The focus had been on first home buyers who “take a very long time to make up their minds to purchase and it is a complicated buying process”.

It can also take prospective first home buyers to save up a despite for a half million dollar house. It can also take a long time to be earning enough to service a close to half million dollar mortgage.

Labour identified two problems – not enough houses, and houses were too expensive.

They launched into Kiwibuild by building, or paying developers to build, expensive houses.

Wouldn’t it have been better to do more to lower the cost of land and the cost of building first?


KiwiBuild ballot in Wanaka extended due to lack of interest

A KiwiBuild ballot in Wanaka has been extended due to the low number of peoele entering the ballot, with some houses having no entries.

ODT: Northlake ballot extended

The South Island’s much-heralded first foray into KiwiBuild home ownership has been a bit of a fizzer — at least so far.

So few prospective homebuyers have entered the ballot for 10 KiwiBuild house and land packages in the Northlake suburb of Wanaka that the developer has asked to extend the ballot period by 10 days.

The ballot was due to close on Thursday.

KiwiBuild senior media adviser Mark Hanson said yesterday 20 ballot entries had been received.

‘‘Some houses have received no entries and the developer has asked us to extend the ballot to Sunday, November 18, to allow for people who they are working with more time to work through their pre-qualification process.’’

Inquiries yesterday did not produce any clear reason for the different levels of interest between Auckland and Wanaka but it is understood many Aucklanders entered the ballot in the final days.

The Northlake KiwiBuild homes were the first announced outside Auckland.

Four two-bedroom and six three-bedroom detached houses costing between $565,000 and $650,000 are in the ballot.

Two bedroom houses and sections for from $565,000 will be tough to afford for many ordinary Kiwis.

Mr Twyford had no comment to make yesterday on the level of interest in Wanaka KiwiBuild homes.

At the time he announced the Wanaka programme, Mr Twyford said the Queenstown-Lakes district had been “absolutely hammered by the housing crisis”.

“So here in Wanaka and Queenstown we’ll be announcing more KiwiBuild homes because we want to give young first-home buyers a crack at affordable home ownership and currently they’re locked out.”

He said there were plans for further KiwiBuild announcements in the Queenstown Lakes district in the coming weeks and months.

Wanaka is a part of the Queenstown Lakes district. KiwiBuild may need to review their intention to do more in the area.

It is not a surprise to see ups and downs in a project like KiwiBuild. It was a grand plan from Labour with a lack of preparation, as if they didn’t think they had a chance of getting into Government.

Easter trading in Central Otago

The new Easter trading law has allowed the Central Otago District Council to enable Sunday trading for the first time.

Up until last year there was a glaring anomaly with Easter trading in Central Otago. Queenstown had special dispensation and was able to trade, while nearby towns were banned from Sunday trading like most of the rest of the country.

ODT: Businesses get green light for Easter trading

Central Otago businesses can now take advantage of Easter Sunday crowds.

In August, the Government passed the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act 2016, which lets local authorities choose whether to allow Easter Sunday trading.

The Central Otago District Council yesterday adopted an Easter trading policy, after approving it in draft form in November.

After the meeting, Mayor Tim Cadogan said the move would promote the region as a place to visit on holidays.

”Easter is obviously a prime time for that. We need to give our businesses the opportunity, if they wish, to get their staff to open the doors and make money while there are people in town.”

From looking at submissions and social media, it appeared opposition to the policy was not strong, he said.

Last year the council received 295 replies to an online survey on the policy, about 70% approving of the change. In December it received five supporting and two opposing submissions.

Central Otago is a popular Easter destination, especially every second year when the Warbirds Over Wanaka air show is held. It made no sense that Queenstown could trade normally on Easter Sunday and the rest of the area could not.

Wanaka is not covered by Central Otago, it is in Lakes District along with Queenstown, but that should be a done deal too.

Stuff: Long awaited Wanaka Easter trading closer to reality

Queenstown Lakes District Councillors barely spoke before adopting a policy to allow Wanaka businesses to trade on Easter Sunday.

Cr Penny Clark said it was a “excellent proposal” before mayor Jim Boult asked whether there was any debate.

There was no response and the proposal was immediately accepted. It must now go through a public submission process.

The proposal follows years of lobbying by the Wanaka business community to be allowed to trade on Easter Sunday and Easter Friday.

Unlike neighbouring Queenstown where an exemption is in place, most businesses in the busy tourist resort have been subject to law forbidding them from trading on the traditional religious holiday.

The old law with limited exemptions was a nonsense.

Rob Roy track

The Rob Roy track is a great walk in a fantastic part of New Zealand. It has just been listed as a ‘must-do’ by the Automobile Association.

You need an automobile to get there – drive straight through Wanaka (which I remember as a quite village a few decades ago but is very busy these days) and head up the Matukituki Valley, and hang a left up the west branch to the Raspberry Hut car park. It’s well sign posted.


There’s quite a bit of uphill but not too hard, about 10 km return. DOC says 3-4 hours return but allow for plenty time at the top to sit back and soak in the scenery.

It’s about 320 km from Dunedin so you can get there in half a a day easily enough, but you really need to stay a night or two in the Wanaka/Cromwell/Queenstown area to make the most of it.

ODT: Glacier track hike hailed a ‘must-do’

A half-day hike near Wanaka which has been described as one of the best in New Zealand has been given a publicity boost after it was included in a list of the top sights in the country.

The Rob Roy Glacier track in the west Matukituki valley area of the Mt Aspiring National Park has been included in the Automobile Association’s updated 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis.

“What we were looking for was those inspiring places  that were slightly off the beaten track but were accessible to most people right now.”

DOC: Rob Roy Track (includes map and brochure)

This track offers an easy route (achievable by older children) into a dramatic alpine landscape that includes snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.

There’s other great walks in the area.

I’ve been up the Rob Roy in Spring, when there was fresh snow on the ground up the top half of the track, and there was only two of us on the track. It was magic.It will usually be quite busy now.

Here’s some photos from a few years ago:


River crossing at the start of the Rob Roy track.


A break in the bush walk


Up the creek


A glimpse through the bush


It is mostly a bush walk but opens out at the top of the track

I have lain back on the grass in silent stillness, watching the effects of strong winds at the snowy top of the mountain.


This doesn’t do the glacier view justice, you have to be there to experienced it.
In late spring and summer you may get to hear and see small avalanches.


Quite a few creeks and waterfalls


The Rob Roy is one of my favourite walks, and the views and atmosphere at the top are terrific.

Experiences like this are a great way to unwind from normal life. You walk from the edge of Otago into the West Coast (but remain quite a way from the Tasman Sea).


A crime problem moved, not cut?

An odd report from the ODT: One family’s departure expected to cut crime

The departure from Wanaka of a single family is expected to improve the town’s crime statistics.

Speaking at the public forum of the Wanaka Community Board on Wednesday, Sergeant Aaron Nicholson, of Wanaka…mentioned a family, whom he did not name, which had made a “significant contribution to crime” but had recently left town.

As a result, he said, police expected to see a reduction in crime in Wanaka.

Not only had the family gone but also their “associates”.

Unless they have all moved to a secure location like the Milton Hilton then it’s likely the crime problem has just moved, not been cut.

From things I have heard it may not be uncommon for small town police to encourage people associated with crime not to settle into a town or to move out.

It may be easier to move a problem than solve a problem, but this just makes them someone else’s problems – just a change of town and a change of potential victims.

What does the Wanaka earthquake mean?

What does the Wanaka earthquake mean? Probably not much apart from the fact that New Zealand is susceptible to random-ish earthquakes.

It’s been reported as the largest earthquake in the area for more than 60 years. I grew up about 50 km from Wanaka and felt earthquakes were rare, I can only remember one of significance and it was quite mild.

I’ve also lived a lot of my years in Dunedin. Feeling earthquakes here used to be uncommon too. Until the Christchurch earthquakes.

The September 2010 earthquake (7.1) was in the middle of the night and woke me up, then caused a few concerns for a while. It was a major shake even this far from the epicentre.

Then one of my first thoughts was: “Who’s is copping the worst of this? Fiordland? Is it the big one on the alpine fault?”

Fiordland seems to get earthquakes quite often and they’re sometimes big enough to feel here, across the other side of the island. So that’s a likely candidate when we get a bit of a shake here. The Alpine Fault hasn’t slipped big time for a few hundred years but is supposed to be about due, give or take a few decades.

I was at work when the Wanaka earthquake struck on Monday. I work in a fairly earthquake sensitive building or part of town. I felt Christchurch’s February 2011 (6.3) one there, it was a major shake along with significant building creaking. It was very disconcerting even this far away.

The Wanaka quake wasn’t as severe here but it was getting up there. It started with the now familiar creak and then a series of wobbles and creaks for a minute or so. It caused a bit of concern in the building.

We also felt a number of Christchurch aftershocks, anything over about 5 was strong enough to creak and wobble.

I’ve worked in the office for fourteen years (and for a couple of years in the same building in the early 90s) and until the Christchurch quakes had never felt one there. So it’s a new phenomenon.

What does this mean? Probably that there happens to be a cluster of quakes in the South Island big enough to be felt.

When I feel a quake I usually go straight to Geonet to see how big and where it was centred. Then I check Twitter out because first reactions are quick to appear there.

But what we feel is just the tip of the earthberg.

Earthquakes in New Zealand in 2014:

  • 4.0-4.9 : 547
  • 5.0-5.9 : 81
  • 6.0-6.9 : 9
  • 7.0-7.9 :
  • 8.0 and over

Earthquakes in New Zealand 1960-2014:

  • 4.0-4.9 : 24,200
  • 5.0-5.9 : 2,750
  • 6.0-6.9 : 144
  • 7.0-7.9 : 22
  • 8.0 and over : 0

So that means a major (7+) quake every 2 or 3 years, a significant (6) quake 3 times a year and 50 quakes over 5.0 that can be easily felt in the locality of the epicentre plus much of the surrounding island/s.

Here’s the stats:

Frequency of New Zealand Earthquakes (1960 to 2014)
Magnitude Annual Average Minimum Maximum “Rule of Thumb”
4.0 – 4.9 440 184 1,343 1 per day
5.0 – 5.9 50 19 127 4 per month
6.0 – 6.9 2.6 0 9 2 per year
7.0 – 7.9 0.4 0 2 1 per 2.5 years
8.0 or over 0 0 0 1 per century*
* Based on geological investigations and historical record of earthquakes.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program displays 
Worldwide Earthquake Facts and Statistics
, located by the USGS National 
Earthquake Information Center (NEIC). This includes a table illustrating the 
relationship between changing magnitude, and ground motion and energy.

They don’t call us the Shaky Isles for nothing.

The Wanaka earthquake simply means we get quite a few earthquakes in New Zealand, and it’s difficult to know when and where the next big one will be.

And to be more accurate Monday’s earthquake wasn’t centred on Wanaka, it was closer to Mount Aspiring, in mountains near the Matukituki Valley. A beautiful place to visit with some great walks (my favourite is to the Rob Roy track which goes up off the west branch valley). It’s probably still safe to go there.