Amy Suarez | |

Preppers - a new kind of tourism for Taupo
Residents of Taupo NZ are hoping to “lure…Americans” to settle there by building an off-grid community.

The government has already earmarked the spot for a “Biosphere of the 21st century” and it is home to the New Zealand Clean Energy Centre.
The proposed family-style homes would be heated via geothermal or biomass sources, and electricity supplied via solar or wind energy.
Wastewater would be drip irrigated to energy crops that would provide future fuel for the community. Water would be supplied via rainwater collection.
There will be wi-fi internet along with communal vegetable gardens and septic tanks.
“This is about attracting people who have disconnected from the world, so to speak, who need only their laptop and smartphone and can travel anywhere and still work,” said the centre’s CEO, Rob McEwan.
“Young, affluent Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are scouting around New Zealand at present looking for land,” Mr McEwan said.
“They are looking to get out of the US, live in a community with good water resources and establish a sustainable and ‘local’ lifestyle.” New Zealand could “easily” rise to be the No 1 choice for them, he said.
“We are politically neutral, almost 80 per cent of our electricity is generated from renewables, we have ample water and we are friendly to Americans.
“So then the question for Taupo becomes how can we lure them to our community?”.
The development would comprise half- acre sections and the actual houses would be simple designs that resemble any ordinary Waikato development.
“The large section would allow for things like large garden spaces, which could be private or shared, and septic tanks,” he said.
And how much would a slice of green living go for? “It is an unknown cost at this stage, but part of the vision is providing affordable housing.
“We would be looking at a range of homes, all under $500,000.” Owners would also have to pay about $60,000 for renewable energy technology add-on costs, he said.
Taupo mayor Rick Cooper was wary of the “grandiose plan”. “But the council does like to support drive and enthusiasm and dreams.”

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