Most of us don’t need yet another reason to visit New Zealand. The landscape is vast and staggeringly beautiful, the people are among the friendliest in the world, and, by all accounts, the country is COVID-19-free. For anyone who’s ever wanted to move to New Zealand and has a spare $7.5 million to burn, a one-of-a-kind property is now up for grabs.
It’s not often that an entire American Wild West town — original or replica — comes on the market. Rarer still is to find such a town in rural New Zealand. So-called Mellonsfolly Ranch is a pitch-perfect replica of a traditional, 1860s-era frontier town straight out of Wyoming. The sprawling, 900-acre property is home to 10 themed buildings, including a courthouse/movie theater, a hardware store, horse stables, a sheriff’s office, and, of course, a licensed saloon — all strung together by a weathered boardwalk. Plus, with a total of 13 guestrooms, the town’s three homes sleep more than 20 people comfortably.
The surrounding landscape of New Zealand’s Central Plateau is a mix of dramatic peaks, pristine rivers, and miles of seclusion in every direction. All of which provide the perfect backdrop for world-class hunting, fishing, hiking, and water sports adventures in the summer. In winter, the nearby town of Okahune and Mount Ruapehu offer incredible ski opportunities.
The story of Mellonsfolly Ranch began long after the Wild West period ended in the late 19th century. A wealthy New Zealand businessman built the town in 2006. Six years later, he sold it to his friend, Rob Bartley (an entrepreneurial tycoon who made his millions in the manufacturing of aluminum car parts), in a handshake deal. While the ranch could’ve turned a handsome profit as a tourist attraction for day visitors, Bartley opted to rent it out as a boutique hotel and occasional event space for weddings and corporate functions. Perhaps the ranch’s most promising business venture, however, is its Manuka honey operation. It’s one of the country’s most prized exports, and the town currently produces more than 15 tons of it per year.
Mellonsfolly Ranch is available through Sotheby’s New Zealand for the low, low price of $7.5 million U.S. dollars. The realtor is quick to point out, however, that it has received far more interest than expected. It’s not surprising, considering the property’s uniqueness and the fact that many millionaires are looking for their next pandemic-proof safe haven. Non-Kiwis who promise to invest at least $10 million New Zealand dollars over three years can qualify for residency in the country. For a few million more, you could probably even start your own private Westworld.
If the beach is more your scene, check out the modern minimalist Kawakawa House that beautifully color-matches the black sands of New Zealand’s Piha Beach.