In 2005, Auckland businessman John Bedogni wanted somewhere to ride his horse, shoot a six-shooter, throw his cowboy hat in the air, and ride into the sunset of Western fantasy. Instead of booking an experience vacation in Colorado like most people would, Bedogni built himself a town.
Mellonsfolly Ranch, tucked into a New Zealand valley in a 400-hectare paradise of hills, canyons, and creeks, looks like a slice of 1860s Wyoming relocated to Middle Earth (which Bedogni certainly knew; mellon is Elvish for friend, according to J.R.R. Tolkien).
The single-street town, which is deep enough in the Ruatiti Valley on the North Island that cell phone access is a myth and w-ifi a fable, has 10 replica town buildings, two guest houses, and a large residence. Until the pandemic, it was open as a tourist destination, mostly for group reservations. You could rent out the entire ranch, which hosts 22 guests, for just under $8,000 US a night. Experiences came with in-character hosts, horse riding, and other Wild West Experiences. But now, instead of rentals, the town is up for sale.
For a mere $7.5 million, the entire town of Mellonsfolly Ranch is up for grabs. The town includes two licensed saloons, both with the obligatory swinging wood doors, a classic white courthouse that doubles as a movie theater, and a bank (because what cowboy fantasy doesn’t include a bank robbery).
Everything is heavily detailed. Before he sold the property to its current owner, Rob Bartley, in 2012, Bedogni and his wife brought dozens of shipments of authentic antiques from the U.S. to furnish every aspect of the Folly. The theming perhaps peaks in Miss Nancy Anne’s Hotel (“Single rooms for single girls, no men allowed!” reads the sign, but if you own the town, you make the rules), where every room is themed and named for heroes of the Old West.
And perhaps one more bonus: at $7.5 million, the Ranch’s price tag is enough to qualify any buyer for an Investor 1 Resident Visa in New Zealand.
Photo: Goldfield Ghost Town, an old wild west town in Arizona. Credit: tishomir / Shutterstock.com