One of NZ's most expensive nights - $15.5K at 'Mutt' Lange's Queenstown eco-lodge

By Chris Hutching
November 9, 2016

The multi-million dollar view from a bathtub at Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Eco-lodge.

A Queenstown eco-lodge owned by South African-born songwriter and producer Robert "Mutt" Lange is among the most expensive in New Zealand at $15,500 a night.

Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Homestead and Eco Sanctuary will offer rooms for 12 people, plus four-wheel drive tours, horse trekking, picnics, farm tours and yoga.

"Fifteen grand might seem a bit ouchy, it's at the pointy end, but it's exclusive use," Fiona Stevens, director and co-owner of concierge company Major Domo, said.

The $15,500 a night Ridgeline homestead at Mahu Whenua.

Stevens expected demand from overseas visitors as well as New Zealanders, particularly the corporate market for product launches and incentive trips.

Lange acquired sole ownership of several high country properties he now calls Mahu Whenua after his 2008 divorce from Canadian singer Shania Twain.

They included Mototapu Station, Mt Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Lange and Twain purchased most of the properties in 2004 for $21.5 million, subsequently placing environmental covenants over 90 per cent of the land, and facilitating creation of public walking tracks.

Lange has visited from time to time, but was mainly based in Europe following the break up with Twain who wrote a book describing how she discovered her husband was having an affair with his secretary and her friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud.

Subsequently Twain married Thiebaud's former husband, Frederic.

Co-owner of Major Domo, Lisa Hayden, said while small areas of the land were open to walkers, runners or bikers on high ridge trails, "there are tens of thousands of hectares that are 100 per cent private to guests".

"It's not often you can have that privacy even though you're only 15 minutes from Wanaka."

Guests would also be encouraged to watch or engage in conservation practices such as replanting areas with native trees, and learn about the native weka and pukeko breeding programmes.

The 2015 accounts of Lange's company Soho Property revealed annual losses for the properties over several years of about $2m to $3m annually, allowing the company to build up tax losses of $22.9m to be offset against future income.

The losses arose from farm expenses including conservation plans. The land was valued in the accounts at $31.5m with improvements to property and buildings adding another $39.3m.