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Courtesy of NZ Today Magazine.
On a high hill up among the clouds and amongst the sheep and pasture you look below to mighty lake Taupo that is as flat as glass after today’s heavy rain. The dewy green grass is sticking to my jandals and off in the distance in one direction, is the start of the Desert Road and Rotorua in the other. The clouds open up just enough for developer Mark Prujean’s big grin to appear as we look out on million dollar views from Savannah Bay — high country estate. From every degree there is something to make you inhale a little bit more of that country air. “I told you so. Everyone who actually comes up to have a look can’t believe the view. Can’t believe the place we have up here. Even through those clouds,” says Prujean.
He and his wife Leanne, along with two other couples Ross and Sandy Christensen and Shane and Denise Le Prou are the force behind Savannah Bay. They believe it is the best piece of land in the Lake Taupo region and have turned a 1000-acre existing farm into a place where people looking for a rural lifestyle can find their own little oasis. It’s a development process of sorts, but different to subdivisions and property as we know it. Prujean refers to the place as somewhere which holds the “ten acre blocks of the future”.
The Le Prou’s had worked on other property projects in the Lake Taupo region and they pitched the idea to the other two couples. Shane Le Prou had thought of a way that people could experience all the good bits of rural life without having to give up all their spare time crutching sheep and fixing fences. Prujean takes me to the Le Prou’s for a chat. Shane seems like the quintessential kiwi farmer.
This also means that the whole surrounding bay is a conservation estate, DOC managed and protected. So no other development can be made that would block those magnificent views. Essentially a family doesn’t have to be ludicrously wealthy to be part of the Savannah Bay development. Many of the workers, engineers, project concept artists and friends of the developers have already bought into the project. Marketing manager Andrew Montgomerie says his job is an easy task once he gets people to just have a look around up there.
“On a good day your mouth will open. You can’t believe you’re up there. This particular property is probably the most magnificent one that you’ll ever see in this region. It’s an untouched piece that’s been sitting there but no-one’s known about it because of it’s elevation. The view it commands is looking over the entirety of Lake Taupo. That’s a big lake; it’s the size of Singapore, and northward, to Rotorua and Mt. Edgecombe, and to the mountain. There has been lots of positive interest.” It’s a two-year plan before people are living up there. They’re trying to have low impact — they want it to be clean and green and free of any kind of blots on the skyline. Because they haven’t just cut the massive block of land into a series of ten acre blocks the Taupo City Council are right behind them and refer to Savannah Bay as a ‘property of the future’.
For Savannah Bay properties sold privately, the commission that a real estate agent would have got will be donated directly to Variety, The Children’s Charity. Taupo is being internationally recognised more and more. It has a reputation for adventure — skydiving, jet boating, bungy jumping — there are the internationally renowned golf courses like Wairakei and Jack Nicklaus’ new addition, the Huka Lodge and The Falls, and it can only increase with the addition of the A1 Grand Prix and the possibility of it being a permanent fixture. It’s central, it’s by the lake, it’s near the mountains and Taupo, the town, has a lot to offer.
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