A meticulously reproduced replica of an American wild west town is for sale in rural New Zealand for US$7.5 million (NZ$11.5 million), complete with a courthouse-turned-movie theater, licensed saloon, and on-site accommodation.
Mellonsfolly Ranch was built "for fun" in 2006 by a New Zealand businessman and then sold to his friend and entrepreneur Rob Bartley (founder of aluminium car parts manufacturing company Ali Arc) in a handshake deal in 2012. The ranch looks like a tourist attraction but it has never fully operated as one. Instead Bartley turned the ranch into a boutique hotel and would use it to host events including weddings, family get-togethers and corporate functions, according to New Zealand Sotheby's International Realty – the estate agents listing the property.
Spread out across a 900-acre ranch in the hilly central New Zealand countryside, the property features 10 period-themed buildings, designed to resemble an 1860s-era Wyoming frontier town. Structures include a boardwalk, a courthouse that doubles as a movie theater, a licensed saloon, stables, a hardware store, a building called Texas Rose's Bathhouse and 13 guestrooms that can accommodate up to 22 people, as well as homes for staff. Additionally, there is a Manuka honey business on site that turns in a decent profit.
Sotheby's say they have received far more interest than usual from international buyers due to New Zealand's success in battling the coronavirus pandemic with potential owners viewing the country as a "safe haven".
"But even prior to this New Zealand has long been a desirable place to live due to the enviable quality of life here," Sotheby's said in a statement. "New Zealand, down here in the Pacific, enjoys a certain level of insulation from the comings and goings of the world at large."
The idea of living in your very own episode of Westworld plus the appeal of residency status makes this ranch a tempting prospect to foreign buyers. An Investor 1 Residence Visa allows business people who invest NZ$10 million over three years to apply. Most of the interest has so far come from US and Hong Kong.
“The majestic and unique nature of this property has resulted in unprecedented global interest” Glen Jones, General Manager at New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Wellington confirmed to Lonely Planet.