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Official knock-back sees renown author and artist’s property back on the market for sale

Tags: Rural

The conditional sale of one of New Zealand’s most diverse rural properties has been turned down by the Overseas Investment Office - leading to the real estate asset being placed back on the market.


The 122 hectare property in Waihopai Valley south of Marlborough is owned by eclectic entrepreneur and culture aficionado Mike Ponder and his wife Di, who have developed the site over the past ten years – horizontally expanding its productive capacity year-on-year.

The Ponder name is synonymous with viticulture in Marlborough – dating back to the early 1990s for the manufacture of award-winning wines. Mike Ponder is also regarded as the early pioneer in New Zealand’s niche virgin olive oil market. In addition, he is also a professional artist – best known for his iconic ‘stockman’ works.

Mike Ponder is also an author, well known for his non-fiction works on olive oil and art. He has also written two best-selling novels, The Windsor Conspiracy and Four Kings.

The Ponder’s property at 293 Tyntesfield Road was first marketed for sale in 2017 by Bayleys Marlborough, and received wide interest from both local and international potential buyers.

The Ponders’ multi-faceted property contains one of the most varied income streams in New Zealand’s rural sector, including:

• Some 30 hectares of planted sauvignon blanc and pinot noir vines with a commercial grape supply contract in place

• Approximately 50 hectares grazed by premium breeding cattle

• 40 hectares of pine forest of which half is primed for harvesting

• 300 olive trees

• 70 walnut trees and

• A three-bedroom cottage available for visitor and tourism lets.

In early 2018 the Ponders accepted a conditional offer from a private French winery owner who had intentions of running the Marlborough property as a commercial investment entity, in conjunction with spending several months a year residing at the residence to oversee annual harvesting of the much sought-after sauvignon blanc crop.

The purchase was subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office. After some nine months of investigation – including several requests for additional information on the running of the business, the French vintner’s purchase request was surprisingly, and for no logical reason, declined by the Government agency.

As a result, the Tyntesfield Road freehold land, buildings and assets are now back on the market for sale by at auction on March 8 through Bayleys Marlborough. Salesperson Kurt Lindsay said the property’s vineyard plantings were split into 28.5 hectares of sauvignon blanc and 1.5 hectares of pinot noir.

He said the crops were being sold with a supply contract to Craggy Range Wines in place, with the sauvignon blanc vines annually producing between 400 – 500 tonnes of fruit.

Meanwhile, the property’s 90 strong shorthorn cattle stud was also included in the asset list, Mr Lindsay said.

The property’s homestead set in three hectares of garden and mature trees, is an open plan style three-bedroom/two-bathroom residence with its own sleepout and internal garage, while additional farm and vineyard infrastructure includes a hay barn, a large farm equipment/implement and general storage shed, and two cattle yards.

A separate two-bedroom/two-bathroom cottage on the property was fully renovated five years ago with the intention of utilizing it either as farm workers’ accommodation or for short term tourist lets. In the centre of the 122-hectare estate is a wetland area containing a natural lake teeming with wildlife including ducks, swans and exotic royal spoonbills.

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