NZL14 battle cost $170k of ratepayers money

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 27, 2024

Close to $200,000 of ratepayer money has gone towards the five-year court battle and removal of the 1992 America's Cup yacht NZL14 from Lake Whakatipu last year.

Information retrieved from the Queenstown Lakes District Council under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reveals it cost the council $126,077 to pull the yacht from Queenstown Bay. 

The removal of NZL14 occurred in November, requiring a crane, towing vessels, and a trailer to dispose of the boat.

A further $49,646 went towards the court cases associated with NZL14. 

The legal dispute between the council and yacht owner Geoff Hunt began in September 2018 when the boat broke its mooring in the lake.

"Mr Hunt had failed to comply with several directives of the council's Navigational Safety Bylaw 2018 to relocate NZL14 to a permanent mooring," the LGOIMA response details. 

After the boat was declared abandoned in the Queenstown District Court in 2020, and then the decision was upheld by the high court in 2023, the council worked to remove it from the lake. 

The council also tried to sell the boat during the pandemic, but there were "numerous failed attempts to find a successful party to purchase NZL14".

In November 2022, Mr Hunt filed court proceedings against the council to prevent them from selling or disposing of the boat, which were dismissed by the high court in February 2023.

Mr Hunt, who lives in Auckland, became aware the boat had been removed from the lake in early January, when his lawyer walked past Queenstown Bay and realised it wasn't in the water.

He contacted Crux following the realisation and expressed his disappointment about being in the dark about the boat's whereabouts

In a response from a council spokesperson, the organisation told Crux they were "pleased" the boat was no longer in the lake.

The council told Crux it would take "extensive work" to bring the yacht back to working condition. 

The $126,000 removal cost also included the planning, safety management, acquiring the equipment, and advertising costs. 


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