Wealthy Americans ship doomsday bunkers to New Zealand - report

Two 150-tonne survival bunkers have been sent to New Zealand from Texas, a report claims, as wealthy Americans target the country as a suitable doomsday retreat. 

Over the past two years, seven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have purchased survival bunkers from Rising S Company and had them sent to New Zealand, the manufacturer's general manager Gary Lynch told Bloomberg

One of the 93sqm bunkers arrived in Auckland and was settled in Northland, while the other was transported from Wellington to a "sleepy town" on the West Coast. 

Bloomberg said the New Zealand Customs Service wouldn't confirm that the bunkers - which would accommodate around 300 people - had arrived in New Zealand, because of privacy concerns. 

New Zealand has been pinpointed as a popular destination "not only for those worried about impending dystopia, but for wealthy tech entrepreneurs seeking incubators for nurturing start-ups," writes Olivia Carville for Bloomberg. 

"New Zealand is an enemy of no one," Mr Lynch told Bloomberg from Texas. "It's not a nuclear target. It's not a target of war. It's a place where people seek refuge."

Former Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand is "known as the last bus stop on the planet before you hit Antarctica".

He told Bloomberg in a phone interview he's had "a lot of people say to me they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to hell in a handbasket". 

An image of a Rising S Company bunker being installed.
An image of a Rising S Company bunker being installed. Photo credit: Rising S Company

New Zealand has attracted a range of wealthy Americans in recent years, including billionaire hedge-fund manager Julian Robertson who bought a lodge in Queenstown where he lived for a year with his family. 

There's also ex-NBC host Matt Lauer and entrepreneur Peter Thiel who purchased sections of paradise there. They are among more than 10 Americans from the west coast of the US who have lapped up multimillion-dollar properties in Queenstown in the past two years. 

The Investor Plus Visa, which requires a minimum investment of US$6.7 million (NZ$10 million) over three years, attracted 17 applicants from the US in 2017, Bloomberg reports, after US President Donald Trump was elected. 

But buying up land in New Zealand isn't as straight forward for foreigners anymore, after the Government passed its foreign buyers' ban last month.  

The bill's passing piqued interest around the world, with reports noting how New Zealand's approach to the world appears to have changed, saying New Zealand "doesn't want visitors to get too comfortable".  

Robert Vicino, a builder of massive underground bunkers, told Bloomberg New Zealand isn't even the best location for a doomsday bunker, because a tsunami caused by an asteroid in the Pacific could submerge its highest point.