Why tech billionaires are buying luxury doomsday bunkers in New Zealand

When the zombies come, when the bombs fall, or when biological warfare breaks, where will you go? If you’re a wealthy tech executive in Silicon Valley, odds are it’s New Zealand.

Doomsday bunker in New Zealand, by Rising S. Co.
Rising S. Co.


When the zombies come, when the bombs fall, or when biological warfare breaks, where will you go?

If you’re a wealthy tech executive in Silicon Valley, odds are it’s New Zealand.

In recent years, the island nation of 4.8 million people has become a go-to spot for Americans plotting elaborate and expensive plan Bs in the event of world disaster. It’s an investment that begins to make sense once you reach a certain echelon of wealth.

“It’s known as the last bus stop on the planet before you hit Antarctica,” former Prime Minister John Key told Bloomberg. “We live in a world where some people have extraordinary amounts of wealth and there comes a point at which, when you have so much money, allocating a very tiny amount of that for ‘Plan B’ is not as crazy as it sounds.”

Some wealthy doomsday preppers keep helicopters or private gassed up and ready to go, or go-bags stuffed with gear, gold coins and medicine. Steve Huffman, the co-founder of reddit, told The New Yorker he keeps guns and a motorcycle at the ready. Why? A traffic scene from the movie ‘Deep Impact’.

“Everybody’s trying to get out, and they’re stuck in traffic,” Huffman said. “That scene happened to be filmed near my high school. Every time I drove through that stretch of road, I would think, I need to own a motorcycle because everybody else is screwed.”

More recently, some Silicon Valley doomsday preppers have begun building elaborate bunkers in New Zealand, an island that’s desirable for its lax regulations, remote location and status as a neutral territory in the event of world war.


Rising S. Co.

It’s become something of an industry. Some bunkers are reported to fit 300 people, costing about $35,000 a head. But other bunkers, which are constructed in the U.S. and shipped to New Zealand to be buried secretly, without a trace, can cost up to $8 million.

One deluxe bunker from the manufacturer Rising S. Co, which has recently supplied several Silicon Valley preppers, comes with garden rooms, a games room and a gun range, in addition to bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

But New Zealand might soon be a less viable option for wealthy doomsday preppers. In August, the government passed a law banning the sale of homes to non-residents, meaning anyone looking to ride out Armageddon on the island of 4.8 million people would need to first obtain citizenship.

Not all in Silicon Valley believe it’s worth the effort, however.

“The world is so interconnected now that if anything was to happen, we would all be in pretty bad shape, unfortunately,” Sam Altman, president of Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator, told Bloomberg. “I don’t think you can just run away and try to hide in a corner of the Earth.”

There are 5 eras in the universe's lifecycle. Right now, we're in the second era.

Astronomers find these five chapters to be a handy way of conceiving the universe's incredibly long lifespan.

Image based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, and images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft

Image source: Pablo Carlos Budassi
Surprising Science
  • We're in the middle, or thereabouts, of the universe's Stelliferous era.
  • If you think there's a lot going on out there now, the first era's drama makes things these days look pretty calm.
  • Scientists attempt to understand the past and present by bringing together the last couple of centuries' major schools of thought.
Keep reading Show less

Dark energy: The apocalyptic wild card of the universe

Dr. Katie Mack explains what dark energy is and two ways it could one day destroy the universe.

Videos
  • The universe is expanding faster and faster. Whether this acceleration will end in a Big Rip or will reverse and contract into a Big Crunch is not yet understood, and neither is the invisible force causing that expansion: dark energy.
  • Physicist Dr. Katie Mack explains the difference between dark matter, dark energy, and phantom dark energy, and shares what scientists think the mysterious force is, its effect on space, and how, billions of years from now, it could cause peak cosmic destruction.
  • The Big Rip seems more probable than a Big Crunch at this point in time, but scientists still have much to learn before they can determine the ultimate fate of the universe. "If we figure out what [dark energy is] doing, if we figure out what it's made of, how it's going to change in the future, then we will have a much better idea for how the universe will end," says Mack.
Keep reading Show less

Astrophysicists find unique "hot Jupiter" planet without clouds

A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.

Illustration of WASP-62b, the Jupiter-like planet without clouds or haze in its atmosphere.

Credit: M. Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Surprising Science
  • Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
  • Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
  • Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast