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US TV host Matt Lauer buys huge Wanaka lake property where Oprah and Reese shot film

TV host Matt Lauer is the mystery American who bought thousands of hectares of prime lakeside property near Wanaka, 1 NEWS has revealed.

The NBC Today show anchorman snapped up the Hunter Valley Station, at a ratings value of $13 million. Source: 1 NEWS

Government officials have refused to identify the buyer except to say they're a key person in a key industry.

Lauer, the NBC Today Show anchorman, has snapped up the 6,500 hectare Hunter Valley Station near Wanaka.

"Have you ever been to New Zealand? It is the most sensational country on the planet in my opinion. It's beautiful?" Lauer told The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.

Hunter Valley Station has a ratings value of over $13 million and was the recent location for movie stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

Lauer is a keen fly fisherman and visited here last year, although he found the toilet facilities a bit rough. 

"An outhouse is basically a hole in the ground with a toilet seat. There's nothing else to it," he said in his Tonight Show appearance.

Now, the man who's gone one on one with President Trump and Hillary Clinton on television is likely to run into another proverbial storm. 

For years, Hunter Valley Station has been at the centre of a dispute over access to parts of Lake Hawea Conservation Park.

"What we have effectively got is we have a large landlocked area of conservation estate that the public can't get access to. And this was the only opportunity to get access to that," said Peter Wilson of Federated Mountain Clubs.

But 1 NEWS understands Lauer is keen to allow access to locals and the Conservation Department. 

A source told us he wants to be "a good owner" and he wants to follow the example of record producer Mutt Lange and ex-wife Shania Twain, who bought a Queenstown station. 

But Mr Wilson wonders about that because he believes Lauer is planning to lease the station back to the old owners.

"This is the largest lake front property in New Zealand. We can't afford for this to be shut off to the public," Mr Wilson said. 

Mr Wilson wants this deal overturned.  But it has already been approved by the Overseas Investment Office.