Doomsday Preparations: Silicon Valley’s Super Rich Are Eyeing New Zealand For Escape Plans

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New Zealand is garnering a lot of interest by the world’s super rich concerned about the future.

Silicon Valley’s super rich are eyeing New Zealand for escape plans:

THE term “doomsday prepper” provokes images of tin foil hat-wearing, gun-totting bushmen, the likes of which appear on the plethora of TV shows dedicated to their pessimistic worldview.

But across the United States, at the big end of town — both on Wall Street and Silicon Valley — there is apparently growing paranoia about the potential of impending catastrophe and many are hatching contingency plans.

And it appears New Zealand is at the top of the list for many of the super rich who are seeking “apocalypse insurance”.

In a truly fascinating article published this week by The New Yorker, journalist and author Evan Osnos investigated the surprisingly extensive world of centi-millionaire and billionaire doomsday preppers hedging against the potential of mass social unrest.

An unknown number of Silicon Valley titans are reportedly buying up property in New Zealand as a safe haven when the proverbial s**t hits the fan.

Growing wealth inequality in the West has led to predictions of growing social unrest. Contributing to the fear is a worry that as automation and artificial intelligence continue to swallow up jobs, there will be an eventual backlash against Silicon Valley and the guardians of technology.

New Zealand’s remoteness, good governance and ample agriculture make it an appealing place for a last resort retreat.

The New Yorker article details numerous plans by super rich preppers including the experience of LinkedIn co-founder and prominent investor Reid Hoffman.

When asked to estimate how many Silicon Valley billionaires have established escape routes in the form of remote hideaways, he said: “I would guess 50-plus per cent.”

He also recounted the moment he realised New Zealand was the desired destination after he mentioned to a friend that he was thinking of visiting the country.

“Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” his friend asked.

“I’m, like, Huh?” Mr Hoffman told Osnos.

“Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in’,” he said.

Doomsday Preppers is not just a popular TV show.

One CEO of a large tech company that wished to remain anonymous said the prepper mentality hadn’t become entirely commonplace among Silicon Valley elites but described it as “logically rational and appropriately conservative.”

The installation of Donald Trump in the White House seems to have exacerbated the far-flung fear about the rise of the pitchfork-wielding masses.

But it appears as though even those who support him aren’t taking any chances. Billionaire co-founder of PayPal and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel bought a 447 acre property in New Zealand in 2015.

It is not clear what Mr Thiel — a noted eccentric who is on Mr Trump’s transition team — plans to do with the large lakeside land, which is his second property in the country.

An investigation by the New Zealand Herald this week into the purchase uncovered the scarcely known fact that Mr Thiel even has New Zealand citizenship.

Peter Thiel, a vocal Trump supporter is reported to have a New Zealand passport. Picture: Saul Loeb

The appeal of New Zealand among wealthy doomsday-sayers is reportedly well known among hedge fund managers and Wall Street guys.

Robert Johnson is an economist and senior fellow and director of the “Project on Global Finance” at the Roosevelt Institute. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2015, he told the audience: “I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”

Of course, the rising interest hasn’t gone unnoticed by New Zealand officials.

In the wake of Mr Trump’s shock election win, more than 13,000 Americans registered their intent to emigrate to the land of the long white cloud. Those figures were recorded between November 9 and 16, exactly a week after Mr Trump won the election and represented a 17 fold increase on normal, something the NZ Herald reported under the headline “Trump apocalypse”.

Meanwhile other data supports the notion of a growing interest in New Zealand among rich foreigners.

According to, they bought more than 3500 square kilometres of New Zealand in the first 10 months of 2016 — more than four times as much as they did in the same period in 2010.

Certain locals too have noticed the growing interest from rich foreigners.

In July last year, a forum discussing New Zealand on prepper website Modern Survivalist prompted the angry comment from one user who wrote:“Yanks, get this in your heads. Aotearoa NZ is not your little last resort safe haven for when the s**t hits the fan politacally (sic) or environmentally. Just no.”

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