A Fractured Wakatipu

Queenstown Airport's domination of Frankton Flats forces all residential development to spread throughout the Wakatipu Basin and to ever more distant options such as Kingston, Gibbston Valley and Cromwell. Special housing areas and suburbs are sprouting everywhere. 

The map above highlights 32 separate residential developments, the suburbs of Queenstown, with none having the commercial, cultural, recreational, or educational mix needed for a cohesive community. Each of their designs, with the exception perhaps of Jacks Point, precludes them ever having internal cohesion.

This forces everyone living in these areas into cars and onto roads to get to school, work, shopping, sport or recreation. It stretches our infrastructure of sewerage, stormwater, electricity and telecommunications into a thin web across the whole district. It drains scarce community resources, increasing rates, and undermines any centralisation or consolidation of expensive capital equipment. It increases both the latticework spread and volume capacity required for all the sewerage, water and other infrastructure networks.

The spread population both increases the resource impact per house in terms of land needed, cars required, roads built, and time wasted in travel, while at the same time reducing the viability of public transport, recycling, and the viability of community, sport and cultural centers. A patchwork of housing developments throughout the Wakatipu erodes the landscape, environment and liveability for all.

This outcome has not been by design. The drivers have been the individual owners of land and attendant developers. They are motivated to have their rural land rezoned to residential, as this dramatically increases its value, allowing profits to accumulate. To achieve this their legal teams have pushed for enabling changes in the District Plan or individual resource consents. Instead of driving a cohesive master plan for the district, successive councils have struggled under this pressure. The outcome is distributed, expensive and energy dependent, as evidenced by the now necessary billion dollar transport strategy promoted by our current council.

Perhaps most significantly, with the loss of Queenstown Bay to tourists, our district and our residents have no town or center other than shopping malls skirting the industrial zone airport.

In contrast, the intensification of Frankton Flats could provide an additional 5,000 dwellings for 12,500 residents, making it a connected, liveable, peaceful community. Within a one kilometer radius, residents would have a complete range of excellent facilities, from schools and hospital to sports and commerce. 

 A vibrant, peaceful and livable community that becomes the living, sporting and cultural heart of our district. As a flat, sunny, substantial and central site, it is our cheapest place to build. It is the most efficient place to locate the sewerage and other infrastructure, with the intensity making it the lowest cost per dwelling of any alternative and using the least construction or operating resources. It would substantially reduce dependency on vehicles and increase the viability of public transport, as well as increasing the use of active options such as cycling, scooters and walking.

We have heard some refer to Queenstown Airport as the 'heart' of our community. When we live in this stunningly beautiful district with its vibrant and passionate people, it saddens us to hear that the industrial zone of Queenstown Airport is or should be our community heart.

We think a real heart for our community, with people and place at its core, is something worth striving for.

Isolated and Dispersed

32 Separate Developments

None having the commercial, recreational, or educational mix needed for a cohesive community

Arrow Junction

Arthurs Point east

Arthurs Point west


Bob's Cove



Domain Road


Gibbston Valley

Goldfields Heights

Henley Downs

Jacks Point

Kelvin Heights

Ladies Mile

Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes Estate

Lakeside Estate

Meadow Park


Mill Creek

Pinewood Ridge

Quail Rise

Shotover County

Slope Hill

Speargrass Flat

Sunshine Bay


Tuckers Beach

Wilson Bay

Woolshed Bay

Wye Creek


Where will the people go?

Projected housing demand in the Wakatipu basin is 17,000 residential units over the next 30 years. The availability of land for the supply of housing is explained in the following section. 

Some Special Housing Areas that are in logical locations have been approved. These will accommodate about 1,000 dwellings (2,500 people). In addition, there is space for the development of a further 2,600 dwellings (6,500 people) in the construction and extension of Henley Downs.

Beyond this, there are 920 dwellings planned for Kingston, 1,500 have been proposed for Avalon, 600 for Coneburn and about 360 for Glenpanel. Most of these houses are situated in locations where cars are required to travel relatively long distances on the main access roads to the Queenstown or Frankton urban areas. These cars create significant congestion on roads, and housing development this far out from the centre of Queenstown can’t be considered sustainable.

The Housing Development Strategy Assessment 2017 (HDSA) for Queenstown Lakes District (prepared by M.E Consulting, released March 2018) states that there is sufficient capacity within the existing urban boundaries for the supply of enough dwellings until 2046, the end of the study period. In fact there is between 18,000 to 20,000 over capacity within the existing urban boundaries (p229,HDSA).

Yet this overcapacity doesn’t stop Council allowing, or indeed promoting, developments beyond the existing urban boundaries. The proposed development along Ladies Mile is an example of this. We are sure there will be further pressure for more housing developments strung out along our main roads. These are not sustainable communities. 

Why doesn’t Council stop such developments when they have a report that clearly states that there is more than sufficient supply of land within existing urban boundaries? We believe Council should be mindful of the HDSA report and clearly position itself against residential expansion beyond current urban boundaries.

Such developments would spoil our rural landscape and create significant congestion on roads. 

Relocation of the airport offers an enormous opportunity for our district to absorb more population with the least impact. It would significantly reduce the infrastructure costs that need to be funded by the whole district through rates. It would create the most vibrant, affordable and liveable community within our district.

Logical Locations for Special Housing Areas

A number of Special Housing Areas that have been approved have been in logical locations that are within or nearby existing residential infrastructure.

The housing areas shown in the map above ,will accommodate approximately 1,000 residential units (2,500 people).

Other possible locations for development are the use of land between the existing Henley Downs residential subdivision and the new Kawarau Falls bridge.

Affordable Housing

While the Housing Development Strategy Assessment (HDSA) is clear there is an oversupply of land for dwellings in general, it also states there will be a significant deficit of between 5,000 and 6,000 units in the number of lower value dwellings needed in the Wakatipu basin and Wanaka/Hawea areas (p229, HDSA).

The study also projects that there will be a shift in demand towards apartment type dwellings. “This change in the structure of the housing market in both futures is important, because it means much of the net gain is smaller households, which are likely to have preferences for smaller dwellings, including terrace house and apartment style dwellings” (p105, HDSA).

The Mayoral Affordable Housing Taskforce has a laudable aim that “all of our workforce will be able to own or occupy a home in our District at a cost that allows them to live within their means by 2048” (QLDC).

Various methods have been proposed by which some of these lower value dwellings might be achieved over time.

In one bold move, the application of Queenstown Airport land for high density residential development containing 5,000 dwelling units would significantly resolve the deficit in lower value dwellings.

In the proposed Frankton Vision, not all the dwellings would be of lower value - a well planned community needs to have a mix of standalone houses, townhouses and medium to high density apartments. There would, however, be sufficient numbers of lower value dwellings to meet a significant proportion of the demand and this will mainly resolve this significant problem identified by the HDSA.

The 5,000 units in Frankton would be built in close proximity to schools, shops and businesses. This community could be designed as a walkable community and road patterns designed so that much of the car transport that does occur can be constrained within the community, thereby reducing congestion on the main road network.

The relocation of the airport out of the Wakatipu would have the additional beneficial effect of reducing housing demand in the basin by transferring housing demand for workers associated with the airport to other centres such as Cromwell, Luggate, Tarras, Alexandra and Wanaka. 

This would further extend the timeframe that existing urban boundaries in the Wakatipu basin could remain as they are. The demand to subdivide the remaining areas of flat land far from our urban centres would be significantly reduced and the basin could retain some of its rural character.