Massive Waterfall Park Hotel gets surprise approval

by Peter Newport - Mar 14, 2019

A decision has been made to give the green light to the  controversial Waterfall Park hotel and spa development for the northern end of Lake Hayes.

The area is viewed by residents as being especially sensitive given the long-standing water quality problems in the Lake. Lake Hayes has been closed to swimmers on a number of occasions recently due to poor water quality and  is reputed to be the most photographed lake in New Zealand.

The approval for the 380 room Waterfall Park hotel and spa and contained in a 201 page document that contains multiple conditions that attempt to control any negative effects from the development on the environment.

The approval includes a requirement to lodge a bond with the QLDC as a guarantee against compliance during construction of the hotel.


Opponents fear that the hotel will have a negative impact on the sensitive environment at the north end of Lake Hayes

The decision also requires the developers to have QLDC inspectors notified in advance of each critical stage of the build programme.

It is understood that the developer, Winton, still needs to get permission to build an access road before the hotel construction can start. This part of the project is currently held up in the environment court.

Multiple submitters have tried to stop development on the surrounding land going ahead. They have succeeded on previous occasions, but in this case the developer’s persistence has paid off. This was the fourth attempt to get the development approved.

Organisations such as the Friends of Lake Hayes have argued that the hotel poses a serious risk to the health of Lake Hayes and the catchment area that feeds water into the lake.

Warwick Golsmith and commissioners wide2

Two days of hearings were held in January - with 12 submissions opposing the development and one in support.

Here is the full media release from the developers - Winton.

"Queenstown Lakes District Council has granted Resource Consent for a hotel and related activities, including a wellness centre, restaurants, and conference and event facilities, at Waterfall Park.

Located between Arrowtown and Lake Hayes, Waterfall Park is nestled alongside Mill Creek and at the base of a picturesque, but currently uncelebrated, natural waterfall.

Waterfall Park will deliver a luxurious experience that is both sophisticated and quintessentially New Zealand.  It will become the ultimate haven for locals and visitors - whether they are travelling for business or leisure. 

The tranquil setting of the day spa and wellness retreat, including facilities for yoga, mindfulness and meditation, will attract the growing number of people prioritising personal health and wellness. Accordingly, global ‘wellness tourism’ is expected to grow 7.5% on average per year according to the ‘2018 Global Wellness Institute Report’.

The conference centre will materially increase much needed event space in the Queenstown Lakes region and offer a unique experience to participants and guests in its secluded valley location.

Lauren Christie, Winton GM Queenstown said, “we are excited to be granted resource consent for Waterfall Park and look forward to progressing with the next stages of design and planning for the project, including final discussions with potential hotel operators. We are one step closer to delivering our vision for Waterfall Park, celebrating the unique natural environment that we are working hard to restore and revitalise.”

In conjunction with the proposed new access road through the neighbouring Ayrburn Farm to Waterfall Park, the riparian margins of Mill Creek will be restored along a 1.3km stretch with native shrubs and grasses. This is in addition to the initial revitalisation steps that have already been completed, including the revegetation project of the valley walls to improve stream health, birdlife and biodiversity which entailed 16,000 natives planted."



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